Enchiladas are an easy, make-ahead family meal that gets my Tex-Mex loving family congregating in the kitchen early to count-down the oven timer. When the teenage boys found out I was serving vegetarian Chipotle Butternut Squash Enchiladas they seemed a little bummed about missing the meat. One said, “Well, at least there’s lots of butter and nuts”!
After I educated him on this sizable squash (which is technically a fruit) packed with fiber, potassium, magnesium and vitamins like C, A & E, he took his plate with an eye roll. But, soon his plate was licked clean and he was coming back for more – read on to find out why and get the recipe! Continue reading →
When it comes to appetizers, are you looking for a starting player for your football parties and other fall-season entertaining? It’s the winning call to move my Light Truffle Mushroom Burger Queso to the top of any line up. This creative hamburger-inspired dip is insanely flavorful, fun to serve, and quite likely to cause a celebration dance in the chip-and-dip zone.
Oh, and did I mention that in the scheme of indulgent, creamy, cheesy dips, this queso is not the diet disaster that you might assume it to be? I’ve lightened it by using lower-fat milk and cheeses along with lean ground beef! Read on to get all the deets and this winning recipe. Continue reading →
This post is sponsored by Now Foods. However, all content, opinions and enthusiasm are my own.
It’s easy to excited about September and the promise of all things autumn – the crisper weather, the golden cast the sun makes, the rah-rah of sports teams, and, of course, comforting food in all the fall flavors . . . especially apple!
My Apple Freekah Salad with Ancho Honey Vinaigrette makes a hearty yet still healthy choice for lunch or dinner, packed with filling whole grains, pumpkin seeds, golden raisins and spinach. It’s also a great choice for football tailgating, as it can be served warm or cold. Read on to get the full recipe and learn more about the benefits of apples, freekeh and pumpkin seeds.
The back roads of Central Texas have been alive with the sights and smells of local farm stands selling their most anticipated summer-season specialty – Hill Country Peaches. They are so sweet and delicious straight from the bushel, sometimes it’s hard not to greedily gobble them all up before arriving home.
This year I used restraint (by putting them in the car trunk), and we arrived home from Stonewall, Texas with plenty of this popular stone fruit to make peach cobbler, slow-cooker peach sauce, and ice cream – the July rite of passage. I even had a few extra to make an awesome salad featuring this grill fruit and the recipe I’m sharing today – Smoky Peach Chipolte Vinaigrette & Marinade. Read on the get more juicy details and the instructions. Continue reading →
Brighten up any winter snack situation with these Vibrant Greek Yogurt Dips colorized with some of Mother Nature’s most vivid ingredients including beet powder, turmeric powder and matcha tea. No need to go all fake and freaky to create edible rainbow colors for your holiday appetizers and other fun recipes throughout the year. These natural ingredients are superfoods (typically found on the health food, spice and tea aisles) and not only pump up the pigment, but boost nutrition as well!
While there are lots of additional benefits, beet root powder boosts nitric oxide in your blood (helping circulation, blood pressure and stamina), ground turmeric is a spice that can help to reduce inflammation and lessen the perception of pain, and matcha tea is known to boost the metabolism, calm the mind and help protect against certain cancers.
The other beauty of these three Vibrant Greek Yogurt Dips is how easy they are to make – I originally created the recipes for Litehouse Foods using first their Homestyle Ranch Dip, then later the OPAdipity Greek Yogurt Dips and finally with Greek yogurt from scratch. Using prepared dips (found in the refrigerated section of your produce department) is an “almost homemade” shortcut perfect when you need to pull together a party ASAP or at the 11th hour realize you didn’t bring a dish for the office shindig. I feel more than comfortable using the Litehouse Foods brand because they are VERY mindful to keep their products as fresh and preservative as possible.
But, knowing these dips aren’t easy for some of you to find (and that many prefer scratch recipes), I’ve written out the full preparation of the recipes (and then noted how to swap in the prepared dressings if that’s the route you choose). The base recipe is the same for all three dips, simply mix in 2 tablespoons of the chosen “superfood” ingredient and add extra garnish on top as desired!
These dips also take sandwiches, wraps, side dishes and steamed veggies to the next level with just a drizzle or dollop! Enjoy and Happy Holidays to Hue!
If you need a visual on the beet powder, ground turmeric and matcha — here are the products I used:
Beet, Turmeric & Matcha Greek Yogurt dips
The base recipe is the same for all three dips, simply mix in 2 tablespoons of the chosen "superfood" ingredient and add extra garnish on top as desired!
Noodle night has been a “thing” at my house ever since my boys were toddlers who dared venture only as far as plain buttered pasta. Now all three are teens (one’s nearly 20) with taste buds much more adventurous and welcoming to new ingredients at our noodle nights. Since this mama is a healthy foodie, my family has come to expect my pasta recipes to be packed with as much nutrition and flavor as possible to optimize our active lifestyle. Food is fuel, but it should taste good too!
My healthy pasta recipe today is Butternut-Carrot-Coconut Cream Noodle Bowls with Molasses Steak. For most of us, pasta equates “comfort” and eating it out of a big bowl packed with fresh, flavorful and fit-focused ingredients is not only an edible hug of happiness, but also one of health! I’ve been one to cut carbs here and there, but I always come back to pasta when I need to fuel my long runs, intense workouts or even just jump out of a brain fog. La Moderna Golden Harvest is a brand I’ve been going back to time and time again for my pasta creations. Not only is the consistency, texture and flavor of this 100% Durum Wheat product on point, it’s also a good source of protein (8 grams per serving) thanks to the special selection of high protein wheat that is harvested from desert valleys on Mexico bordering California.
The main protein source for my pasta bowl is sirloin steak that has been soaked in a mollassas marinade, grilled indoors or out, and sliced thinly into bite-sized pieces. While I’ve used lean top sirloin, you could also use any other steak cut that you prefer (such as strip or flat iron) or even heat up leftover roast or brisket. Spinach beefs up this recipe with even more iron in addition to my steak, it’s a must-have mineral this runner girl always needs to cure her fatiuge!
The sauce is super creamy and rich, but surprisingly healthy made of wholesome ingredients including pureed butternut squash, carrots, coconut butter and coconut milk – there is no cheese or traditional milk, so this recipe remains dairy-free. It’s so creamy and rich tasting, it has the texture of an alfredo sauce, but my version it’s so much more sensible for an athlete’s diet. Plus, it’s seasoned with turmeric and ginger which have a host of health benefits to support optimal wellness.
Whisk together molasses, vinegar, oil, pepper, garlic, ginger, thyme, and red pepper flakes, and pour into plastic zip-top bag containing steaks. Seal tightly and flip a few times to evenly distribute marinade. Set in refrigerator to marinate for 30 minutes to 2 hours, flipping bag occasionally.
Preheat gas, charcoal grill or indoor grill pan to 400 F degrees. Remove meat and discard marinade. Season with salt and more pepper to taste.
Place steaks on oiled grates and grill for approximately 7 to 9 minutes on one side, or until moisture starts to pool on the top and beef releases easily from grates with tongs. Flip once, grilling on the other side for 6 to 8 minutes or until internal temperature reaches 135 F degrees with instant-read meat thermometer inserted into the thickest part of steak
Transfer plates to platter and let rest for 5 to 10 minutes before slicing against the grain, and then cutting again into bite-sized pieces.
Meanwhile, add chopped squash and carrots to microwave safe container and add ½ cup water. Loosely place lid on container or vent with plastic wrap and microwave on high for approximately 4 to 5 minutes or until vegetables softened. Drain water and set aside.
In large skillet, add 2 tablespoons coconut oil and bring to medium high heat. Add diced onion and cook for several, stirring constantly, until onions translucent and turning golden brown on edges.
Transfer cooked squash, carrots, and onion with garlic to blender. Add ginger, salt, pepper, and turmeric.
Pour in 2 cups of coconut milk and pulse until finely pureed. If needed, add up to another ½ cup of coconut milk a splash at a time to achieve desired consistency.
Boil pasta according to manufacturer’s directions on box. Drain but do not rinse. Set aside.
Transfer pureed mixture back to skillet to reheat gently over medium-low heat. Stir in chopped spinach and cooked noodles, stirring until combined for about 2 to 3 minutes.
Transfer to individual bowls or serve family style on a platter. Top with sliced beef. Garnish with chopped parsley and unsweetened, shredded coconut.
This post is sponsored by Mountain States, however all comments, opinions and enthusiasm are my own.
I had a wonderful weekend with my family cooking up new memories – well, grilling them up, to be exact! Sitting down together to a simple yet super flavorful lamb dinner was the perfect exclamation point to the end of our summer together (as school started back up Monday and our oldest left the nest again for 2nd year in college). Until recently, my three teen boys didn’t have many memories centered on lamb, but I sure had some recollections – and they mostly involved around stuffy Sunday dinners of yore at a relative’s home wearing uncomfortable clothes, shoes that pinched and being forced to “politely” clean my plate of mushy vegetables and an old-school prepared lamb roast.
Grilling lamb for our last summer weekend together!
After hearing various friends, from Paleo diet devotees and flavor-centric foodies, rave about the virtues of this red meat that’s been enjoyed across various cultures for century upon century, I penciled lamb onto my “things to grill sometime” list – oh, you how I like to grill everything! When Mountain States (producers of Shepherd’s Pride and Cedar Springs lamb, raised right here in the U.S.) sent some delicious looking lamb loin chops my way, they were bumped to the top of the to-do list – it was time to give ‘em my modern, fit foodie spin. If the speed at which my guys devoured dinner is any indication, you are going to LOVE my recipe for Grilled Lemony Lamb Loin Chops with Spinach Gremolata Sauce. #GoForTheBOLD
After marinating for 1 hour, lamb loin chops are ready for the grill!
The loin chops couldn’t have been any easier to prepare with a simple marinade, less than 10 minutes on the grill, and an easy no-cook sauce. When meal-making is a no-brainer, there is more precious time to spend with family and friends – mine will be seeing this lamb recipe again soon at my backyard Labor Day cookout.
Wow, my lamb chops and lemons grilled up in 7 to 8 minutes!
If the weather turns too cool this fall season to barbeque al fresco, these lamb chops easily translate to an indoor grill or stove top grill pan. And, the bright lift of lemon will remind you of a beautiful, never-ending summer! You can see them here served with grilled Shishito Peppers (that recipe posted tomorrow).
While these lamb chops are delicious served unadorned, I prefer to drizzle them with a gremolata sauce prepared with olive oil, lemons and spinach (another twist on tradition). I get so excited when this tangy, flavorful gremolata runs off my chops and into my grilled veggies, potatoes or pasta– it’s a versatile sauce to dress nearly every main dish, side dish, pasta and salad.
Protein-lovers, let me tell you a little more why lamb should make it onto your menu weekly rotation. First of all, a 3.5 ounce serving contains approximately 25g protein, the optimal amount for your body to process at any one “eating experience.” How many times have you heard me stand on my soapbox and tell y’all to eat 25g to 30g of protein at every meal – you need this amount for sustained energy, muscle management, healthy aging and more! Mountain States lambs roam pastures, grazing on grass, herbs and alfalfa, making it a great source of omega 3s (especial alpha-linolenic acid) and is also rich in iron, zinc, selenium, vitamin B-12 and niacin. If you want to try cuts other than lamb loin, every choice (which the exception of ground) is classified as “Lean” or “Extra Lean” by the USDA. Get more lamb nutrition information here.
Because I love feeling connected directly to the ranchers, I will keep getting my lamb from Mountain States. Mountain States (sold as the brands “Shepherd’s Pride” or “Cedar Springs American”) is a co-op owned by more than 150 hardworking families across the US who have been ranching for generations. These Shepherd’s Pride ranchers are committed to producing a clean, complete protein given no hormones or antibiotics, raised just the way nature intended. Additionally, it is the only lamb that carries the third-party Where Food Comes From ® source-verified label. This means, with a scan of the label, I know exactly where my food comes from, where it was raised, and who handled it. Now THAT is some detailed data that will satisfy even the cleanest of clean eaters! Wondering where to buy lamb from Mountain States? When I used their Store Locator, I discovered (yay) my neighborhood H.E.B. grocery store carries it – or, you can ask your butcher!
Add lamb chops, oil, lemon juice, lemon zest, garlic, herbs, salt and pepper to heavy-duty plastic zip-top bag. Move the chops around in the bag until well-coated with marinade. Marinate for 1 hour to overnight in the refrigerator, no longer than 12 hours.
After marinating, remove chops from marinade and discard remaining liquid. Season to preference with salt and pepper.
Heat gas or charcoal grill to approximately 400F degrees. Grill chops with the lid up, flipping once, for 3 to 4 minutes per side or until internal temperature reaches 145 degrees (medium-rare).
While lamb is grilling, also grill lemons for several minutes per side, or until beginning to lightly char. Transfer chops and lemon slice to platter and rest for at least three minutes before serving or slicing.
While lamb is resting, place all ingredients for gremolata in food processor or blender and pulse until partially smooth but with small spinach pieces.
Serve chops with a grilled lemon sauce and drizzle of gremolata.
Powerful good, those purple foods! No, no, not chemically-colorfied candies and goodies, but natural, wholesome fruits and vegetables from Mother Nature’s edible rainbow. If you’ve been passing up purple foods in the produce section, judging them too weird or trendy, it’s time to circle back! Load your basked from the prolific selection of purple foods available today including healthy-diet darlings like purple sweet potatoes (one of my favorite), purple cauliflower, purple carrots and long-time favorites such as purple grapes, eggplant, plums, berries and more.
Fittingly it’s a “P” word that makes purple foods so healthful – polyphenols! Purple fruits and vegetables are filled with polyphenols, important plant-based micronutrients which researchers say may help prevent degenerative diseases (like certain cancers) and protect your heart and overall cardiovascular health. One of the most abundant polyphenols in purple foods is a sub-classification named anthocyanins. Also found in foods like cocoa, nuts, olive oil and tea, anthocyanins are health-promoting, natural chemical compounds that aid in cell protection and healing. Nutritionists recommend include purple fruits and vegetables into your diet at least 4 to 5 days a week alongside dark green, orange and yellow foods for maximum benefits.
I love the Purple Asparagus from Friedas.com, it’s noticeably sweeter than it’s green siblings.Developed in Italy, the the large spears are purple-burgundy toned with a a creamy white interior.
Another one of my favorite foods with the good-for-you purple hue is a purple sweet potato. This dark tuber is royally delicious and once reserved only for the feasts of Incan kings in Peru. These days, purple potatoes reign supreme in the supermarket and, according to the USDA, can have in excess four times the antioxidant power of traditional white potatoes. Plus, potatoes of any color are such a great source of nutrition for athletes including complex carbohydrates to provide energy for workouts and potassium, iron, and other nutrients to help keep a hard-working body in balance. Eat them just like you would any other potato!
I also like to spiralize a purple sweet potato (or finely slice) my purple sweet potatoes and make healthy string fries. The easy recipe is featured below along with a few other links in my recipe collection that are popping with the power of PURPLE! Enjoy!