Pumpkin Maple Peanut Butter Panini with Bananas

 

Busy morning school routines combined with dwindling daylight hours can make waking up in September a challenge. My boys have become snooze button beasts, but not anymore! They are up and at ‘em earlier with much more enthusiasm now that I’ve added some yummy breakfast eating options to the morning menu.

Pumpkin Maple Peanut Butter Panini with Pepperidge Farms Swirl Oatmeal Bread

We all are totally loving the new Pepperidge Farm Swirl Oatmeal breads, the thick and hearty whole grain slices make a yummy foundation for slathers for spreads, sandwich fillings, and such. Today, I’m sharing ways to use this delicious breakfast bread, including my Pumpkin Maple Peanut Butter Panini with Banana! Continue reading

Shredded Chicken & Roasted Veggie Meal Prep – 4 recipes, 16 meals

Set aside part of Sunday, or any day really, to meal prep my Honey Garlic Slow Cooker Shredded Chicken that can be used in the four recipes that I share in this post — its an economical and convenient way to set yourself up for success on your health, fitness or weight-loss journey.

Shredded Chicken & Roasted Veggie Meal Prep - 1 protein, 4 recipes, 16 meals

The slow-cooker chicken is spread divided up to make 4 different recipes covering breakfast, lunch and dinner — that means you can stock your fridge with 16 individually-portioned meals than can be enjoyed throughout the week or frozen for use later.  Read on to get the shopping list, recipes and execution strategy.  Continue reading

Gluten-Free Almond Protein Waffles with Dark Cherry Syrup

Weekends are for waffles, especially around the holiday season! I “leggo” the typical waffle a long time ago, they are so carb heavy and the straight-up sugariness would always leave me with the hangries an hour or two later. But, not so with my Almond Protein Waffles with Dark Cherry Syrup when I pump up my waffles with a little protein powder, almonds and a little Greek yogurt on top, I get a morning meal that makes me feel fuller longer.

Gluten-Free Almond Protein Waffles with Dark Cherry Syrup are a better way to fuel up in the morning -- also sugar free and dairy free (without Greek yogurt topping).

I’ve used a gluten-free flour blend to keep it friendly for those with intolerances and it’s also dairy-free if you choose not to dollop with Greek yogurt at the end. Depending on what type of preserves you choose at the store, the recipe can also be refined sugar free.

black-cherry-almond-protein-waffles

Feel free to make a double batch, let cool, and then stick in the freezer for a quick and easy breakfast later – they are so good sandwiched with nut butter in the middle (and convenient for car munching)!

breville-waffle-makerMy old-school, weary waffle maker is on it’s last legs and I’ve asked Santa to take me to the next-level of waffle making with the Smart Slice Waffle Iron from Breville. It has “Waffle IQ” — I need those smarts!

Also, please take a look-see at these other healthy waffle recipes that will start your morning off most magnificently – I have a sweet and a savory option for you!  Why not make some for your holiday guests?!

 

Gluten Free Pumpkin Spice Latte Waffles perk up fall breakfast and brunch -- perfect for Thanksgiving an

Gluten-Free Pumpkin Spice Latte Waffles

 

 

 

 

Hatch Green Chile Cornbread Waffle with Egg - TheFitFork.comGreen Chili Cornbread Waffles with an egg on top!

 

 

 

So, whatcha doing this weekend? Making waffles? What is you favorite type of waffle and/or topping? Please share (so I can drool) in the comments below – XOXO, Jennifer 

 

Gluten-Free Almond Protein Waffles with Dark Cherry Syrup
Print Recipe
Fill up your tank with these easy gluten-free waffles that are boosted with protein powder and sweetened with a healthier syrup if delicious dark cherries.
Servings Prep Time
8 servings 10 minutes
Cook Time
20 minutes
Servings Prep Time
8 servings 10 minutes
Cook Time
20 minutes
Gluten-Free Almond Protein Waffles with Dark Cherry Syrup
Print Recipe
Fill up your tank with these easy gluten-free waffles that are boosted with protein powder and sweetened with a healthier syrup if delicious dark cherries.
Servings Prep Time
8 servings 10 minutes
Cook Time
20 minutes
Servings Prep Time
8 servings 10 minutes
Cook Time
20 minutes
Ingredients
For Waffles:
For Syrup:
Servings: servings
Instructions
  1. Preheat waffle maker to medium heat.
  2. Place gluten-free flour blend, protein powder, almond flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt in large bowl and whisk to combine.
  3. In smaller bowl, whisk together legs, vanilla extract, butter and milk until frothy.
  4. Stir wet mixture into dry mixture until combined; okay if a few lumps.
  5. Using a 1/2-cup measuring cup, scoop mixture onto waffle maker. Spread evenly and close. Let cook for about 2-3 minutes or until golden brown.
  6. To make syrup, add frozen cherries to medium sauce pot and pour in juice. Stir in cherry preserves and real maple syrup; bring to light boil for 1 minute. Reduce heat and let simmer until thickened and syrupy, approximately 20 minutes.
  7. To serve, pour syrup over waffles and top with a dollop of greek yogurt and toasted almonds.
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{Slow Cooker} Steak & Squash Harvest Stew

Steak and Squash Harvest Stew comes together in the slow cooker for a hearty, healthy meal that is perfect for dinner on busy weeknights -- weekend meals too!I felt it for a second, the cooler morning that is. So I pulled out fringy scarf, boots and slow-cooker – yeehaw, fall weather is here. But, it was a total fake out, ended up being 90 degrees that day. Even though I shed my fall finery, my Crock Pot creation was a dinner winner not about to be tossed.  Rich, meaty, hearty and amazing nutritious thanks to wholesome ingredients like lean beef, pumpkin, acorn and butternut squashes.

You absolutely must pin this photo below if you like healthy, hearty and helpful! 

Steak and Squash Harvest Stew comes together in the slow cooker for a hearty, healthy meal that is perfect for fall and winter meals.

I originally made this recipe for my friends at BeefLovingTexans.com, I almost tried to call it Chili but then remembered some Texans don’t think beans belong in chili. Well, heck, I don’t care – I think everything belongs in chili! This one has a bit of chipotle chili powder to add smoky spice, but feel free to tone it down or kick it up with your favorite chili seasonings. chipotle-beef-butternut-pumpkin-chile-browning-meat

The beauty of this recipe is just dumping all the ingredients into a slow cooker and walking away. I prefer to sear my chili meat (I cubed up a sirloin steak) because that magical caramelization process that happens in the skillet creates a deeper, more complex flavor. But, if you are pressed for time, the stew still turns out dang delicious if you just dump the uncooked beef straight into the slow cooker crock.

I was worried the kids would be suspicious of the trio of winter squashes in the dish – pumpkin, acorn and butternut. But, they loved it and a new autumn family favorite was born – especially when paired with some cast-iron skillet cornbread. I can’t believe I’ve never shared this recipe in photo below — it’ll be served up on the blog next week! COME BACL!

Jalapeno Cheese Cornbread Skillet

So, why don’t you make this Steak & Squash Harvest Stew for supper this weekend – free yourself up some time to hang out with the family, hit a hay ride, visit the pumpkin patch, get lost in a corn maze.  It’s also a great little warmer-upper for those chilly afternoons tailgating and talking all things football or for the neighborhood Halloween potluck!

So, do you have a special family chili (errrr, I mean “stew” recipe)? Doing any special fall activities this weekend? Please share in the comments below – XOXO, Jennifer

Steak and Squash Harvest Stew comes together in the slow cooker for a hearty, healthy meal that is perfect for dinner on busy weeknights -- weekend meals too!
{Slow Cooker} Steak & Squash Harvest Stew
Print Recipe
Fall in love with this healthy, hearty stew featuring pumpkin, acorn and butternut squash -- toss in slow cooker to skimmer all day, come home to dinner!
Servings Prep Time
4 to 6 servings 10 minutes
Cook Time
6 to 8 hours
Servings Prep Time
4 to 6 servings 10 minutes
Cook Time
6 to 8 hours
Steak and Squash Harvest Stew comes together in the slow cooker for a hearty, healthy meal that is perfect for dinner on busy weeknights -- weekend meals too!
{Slow Cooker} Steak & Squash Harvest Stew
Print Recipe
Fall in love with this healthy, hearty stew featuring pumpkin, acorn and butternut squash -- toss in slow cooker to skimmer all day, come home to dinner!
Servings Prep Time
4 to 6 servings 10 minutes
Cook Time
6 to 8 hours
Servings Prep Time
4 to 6 servings 10 minutes
Cook Time
6 to 8 hours
Ingredients
Servings: servings
Instructions
  1. In a large skillet, heat oil over medium-high heat. Add chipotle chile powder and “bloom” in skillet by stirring around constantly for approximately 1 minute. Add stew meet and brown; add to 4 qt. to 6-qt. slow cooker.
  2. To slow cooker, add onion, squash, beans and pumpkin. Stir in the tomatoes, broth, syrup, red pepper and salt. Cover and cook on low for 6-8 hours or until meat is tender.
  3. Serve with desired toppings such as sour cream, cheese and green onions
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Ancho Seafood Skillet with Bourbon Maple Veggie Couscous

I’m all about keeping things simple in the kitchen, my life is already complicated enough! On busy week nights, a one-dish dinner can really lessen mealtime stress — especially a quick-to-clean-up recipe that is made with seasonal ingredients in 20 minutes or less. Ancho Blackened Seafood Skillet with Bourbon Maple Veggie Couscous is a one dish, 20 minute dinner that is perfect for fall weeknights.

Everyone in my family loves seafood; it’s often hard to decide what variety to cook! However, my recipe for Ancho Blackened Seafood Skillet with Bourbon Maple Veggie Couscous keeps everyone happy with a trio of gulf shrimp, sea scallops and haddock fish.  Ancho chili powder (from the milder poblano pepper), bourbon and real maple syrup get  friendly together for a smoky sweet flavor that is “kid-approved” spicy without being a tongue torcher. Ancho Blackened Seafood Skillet with Bourbon Maple Veggie Couscous is a one dish, 20 minute dinner that is perfect for fall weeknights.

After blackening the seafood in my Swiss Diamond Fry Pan (more about that practical luxury in a second),  seasonal vegetables such as butternut squash and Brussels sprouts get a quick searing and then finish alongside the whole grain pearl couscous as it cooks with  Better Than Bouillon® Seasoned Vegetable Base.   Better Than Bouillon

I’ve been a fan of Better Than Bouillon® blendable bases for years and use them in so many recipes ranging from soups, sauces, pasta and anywhere you would use a stock. Available in a range of flavors made from real ingredients including beef, chicken, vegetable and more, each jar of “flavor magic” as I like to say, punches up the flavor intensity so quickly and conveniently. I just stir a teaspoon into a quart of water to use as a traditional stock or use as much or as little as my creation of the day dictates.  I love that I can just make what I need, no wasteful half-full cans of broth sitting around to spoil. Pouring Better than Bouillon in Swiss Diamond Fry Pan

So back to the fry pan! While I mentioned I like things simple, I don’t like to skimp on quality. I always use the freshest, most beautiful produce and best cuts of meat and seafood selections that I can afford – eating well is my deserved splurge in life! I would not risk ruining my perishable investments in anything less than high-end cookware that delivers results. Even though nicer pots and pans may cost a touch more, it keeps from burning or otherwise ruining my food and having to routinely replace cheap pots and pans that can’t keep up with my tasks.  Chef quality cookware from Swiss Diamond suits my tastes and makes it easy to create my kitchen masterpieces with confidence.Putting lid on Swiss Diamond Fry Pan

The 11” Non-stick Fry Pan with Lid  I used to make my skillet dinner has been called the “Rolls Royce of Non-stick Fry Pans” by the Wall Street Journal!  When I blackened the seafood and cooked couscous in it, I was sure that there was going to be some elbow grease involved in getting off the crispy bits and goo – but no, it just swipes clean with a dish towel or brush.  So, how does this magic happen? The pots and pans are made with cast aluminum and treated (three times!) in a proprietary non-sticking coating that includes REAL diamond particles. I learned that diamonds “are a chef’s best friend” because they are durable, non-stick and are excellent conductors of heat!  I also loved how this fry pan has an ergonomic handle that that is cool-to-the touch but can go in the oven up to 500F degrees and comes with clear view lid with an adjustable vent to keep steam in or out! Ancho Blackened Seafood Skillet with Bourbon Maple Veggie Couscous.

So, I hope you find 30 minutes tonight to make my delicious, autumn-inspired Ancho Blackened Seafood Skillet with Bourbon Maple Veggie Couscous. Creative, convenient and easy to clean up!

How do you #MakeMealsBetter ? Please share your favorite one dish dinner or time-saving meal prep tip in the comments. XOXO – Jennifer

Ancho Blackened Seafood Skillet with Bourbon Maple Veggie Couscous is a one dish, 20 minute dinner that is perfect for fall weeknights.
Ancho Blackened Seafood Skillet with Bourbon Maple Veggie Couscous
Print Recipe
This autumn-inspired seafood recipe features shrimp, fish and scallops plus loads of seasonal vegetables and whole grain couscous to create a balanced meal that all cooks in the same skillet -- finished in 20 minutes!
Servings
4 servings
Servings
4 servings
Ancho Blackened Seafood Skillet with Bourbon Maple Veggie Couscous is a one dish, 20 minute dinner that is perfect for fall weeknights.
Ancho Blackened Seafood Skillet with Bourbon Maple Veggie Couscous
Print Recipe
This autumn-inspired seafood recipe features shrimp, fish and scallops plus loads of seasonal vegetables and whole grain couscous to create a balanced meal that all cooks in the same skillet -- finished in 20 minutes!
Servings
4 servings
Servings
4 servings
Instructions
  1. In small bowl, mix together salt, pepper, cumin and Ancho powder.
  2. Pat seafood dry and rub spice mix on all sides of seafood liberally.
  3. Heat grapeseed oil in 11” skillet to medium-high. Add seafood and sear for 2 to 3 minutes on each side until blackened and cooked through. Remove seafood from pan with spatula for use later in recipe.
  4. Add butternut squash and Brussels sprouts to same pan over medium-high and good until beginning to brown and caramelize, but slightly “undercooked,” about 4 minutes.
  5. Add bourbon to skillet and cook for 30 seconds, stirring to deglaze pan. Add syrup and stir for 30 seconds.
  6. Add dry couscous to skillet. Stir vegetable base into hot water and pour into skillet. Stir gently to combine all ingredients. Reduce heat to medium-low, add lid with vent closed, and simmer for approximately 5 to 8 minutes or until water absorbed and couscous tender.
  7. Turn off heat. Arrange seafood on top of this mixture and replace lid to “warm” for 1 minute.
  8. Garnish with sliced green onions.
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Maple Pecan Raisin Butternut Squash Quinoa + Pinner’s Conference

Maple Pecan Raisin Butternut Squash Quinoa - thefitfork.comIt’s happened more than once, I’ve tasted a quinoa salad and gone “meh” even though I know good for me. We are at the crescendo of the quinoa craze, so you too probably are aware that this ancient grain (which is actually a seed) boosts your diet with  nutrients like B-vitamins, magnesium, phosphorus, potassium, calcium, vitamin E, and fiber. Additionally, quinoa is also one of only a few plant foods considered a complete protein, containing all nine essential amino acids — oh how I love me some protein! 

Maple Pecan Raisin Malasses Crusted Steak and Butternut Squash Quinoa

To add some flavor excitement to a quinoa recipe, I decided to mix up a dish that magnifies some of my favorite flavors that some consider “fall season” but I embrace year ’round – maple syrup and butternut squash! And hey, even though it was 105 degrees yesterday . . . we are getting closer to Autumn one day at a time! I’ve used two of my favorite products from NOW Foods, Organic Tri-color Quinoa and Organic Extra Virgin Olive Oil.

Maple Pecan Raisin Butternut Squash Quinoa can be served warm, room temperature or cold -- it's a healthy vegetarian side dish or salad packed with protein and wholesome energy.Anyway,my recipe for Maple Pecan Raisin Butternut Squash Quinoa is just bursting with flavor and wholesome goodness. Not only is this recipe pretty to look at, it’s a beautiful addition to a meal-prepping lineup — especially important now that it’s Back-To-School season. You can make a big batch and eat it warm or cold — it also holds up well to being packed in a lunchbox.   Of course, I like to pair mine with a big, juicy steak!

Maple Pecan Raisin Malasses Crusted Steak and Butternut Squash Quinoa

By the way, I am demonstrating this Maple Pecan Raisin Butternut Squash Quinoa coming up on Friday, September 9th at the Texas Pinner’s Conference  in the Dallas area (Arlington Convention Center). My class is called “Empowered Meal Prep – Protein for Fitness.” 

pinners conference class description

pinners conference pic 1Learn how to prepare enough protein (I’m grilling Molasses & Pepper Crusted Steaks) to make dinner with leftovers for breakfast and lunch — the other recipes are Iron-Boosting Beef & Date Spinach Salad and Steak & Plantain Breakfast Bowl. Sign up for my class, I’ll also have beef swag and lots of tasty samples!  Use the discount code FITFORK at online registration to save 10% on the very reasonable cost that allows you access to 100+ classes on food, fitness, crafts, home décor and more! Or, if you just want General Admission to shop and see the sights (no classes), you can get a free pass ($7 at door) using FREESHOPPING. RESISTER HERE

Are you a make-ahead meal prepper? What is your favorite dish to stock in the fridge or freezer? Have the kids gone back to school yet? Please share in the comments below – XOXO, Jennifer 

 

Maple Pecan Raisin Butternut Squash Quinoa - thefitfork.com
Maple Pecan Raisin Butternut Squash Quinoa
Print Recipe
Beautiful and health-boosting, this easy quinoa recipe works well as a warm side dish or cold salad -- it packs and keeps for several days making it ideal for potlucks, lunchboxes, and make-ahead dinner planning.
Servings Prep Time
8 servings 10 minutes
Cook Time
15 minutes
Servings Prep Time
8 servings 10 minutes
Cook Time
15 minutes
Maple Pecan Raisin Butternut Squash Quinoa - thefitfork.com
Maple Pecan Raisin Butternut Squash Quinoa
Print Recipe
Beautiful and health-boosting, this easy quinoa recipe works well as a warm side dish or cold salad -- it packs and keeps for several days making it ideal for potlucks, lunchboxes, and make-ahead dinner planning.
Servings Prep Time
8 servings 10 minutes
Cook Time
15 minutes
Servings Prep Time
8 servings 10 minutes
Cook Time
15 minutes
Ingredients
Servings: servings
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 375 F degrees. Toss butternut squash with 1 tablespoon of the olive oil and place in single layer on rimmed baking sheet.
  2. Bake squash, stirring once halfway through, for approximately 15 minutes or until tender and turning golden brown. Remove from oven and set aside to cool down.
  3. Meanwhile, cook quinoa according to package directions -- it should also take around 15 minutes, so you can do the squash and quinoa simultaneously to save time.
  4. When quinoa done, transfer to large bowl, fluff with fork and allow to cool for 5 minutes.
  5. While quinoa and squash cooling down, prepare dressing by adding maple syrup, remaining olive oil, balsamic vinegar, thyme and salt to small bowl and whisk until combined.
  6. Add cooked quinoa, cooked squash, green onions, raisins, and pecans to large bowl, mix gently to combine.
  7. Pour dressing over top and stir to evenly distribute. Serve warm, room temperature or chilled.
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Spicy-Sweet Smokehouse Bacon Almond Granola #GameChangingFlavor

This post is sponsored by Blue Diamond Almonds. Ditch the chips and grab some Game Changing Flavors this football season! Enter for a chance to win the Ultimate Football Party Prize Pack, get great savings and ideas for delicious snack hacks at GameChangingFlavors.com .Smokehouse Bacon Almond GranolaWe take football SERIOUSLY here in Texas.  Friday nights are spent under the lights cheering on the hometown boys and socializing with friends. All day Saturday is set aside for tailgating and stomping boots in the fan stands of our hometown college team (or Pop Warner) and Sunday and Monday we gather ‘round the big screen to rally behind our favorite professional teams. Pop Warner Football - TheFitFork.com

So, during the season, it’s not uncommon to have four straight days of football. Oh, and the holiday bowl games – those may be the best because usually all the family and friends are around to celebrate! You may not believe this, but it’s TRUE – every year my family pushes our Thanksgiving feast from Thursday to Friday just so some of us can attend a very important collegiate game. Like I said, football is serious business in these parts.

Healthy Football Snack StadiumSecond to the serious excitement of the gridiron action is the snack table lineup. Actually, I know some (okay, maybe me) would say that good football grub is the most important part of the day – in fact, I go nuts for football food! Nuts, especially almonds, are always part of my starting snack lineup and they pair with everything from cold-cut sandwiches, pizza, wings and healthier things – including the over-the-top Healthy Snack Stadium I crafted for a big bowl game last year!

 

Salty Sweet Smokehouse Almond Bacon GranolaThis football season, I’m serving up Salty-Sweet Smokehouse Almond Bacon Granola – a real winner based on how many times I have to refill the bowl even before half-time!  People are like “bacon granola?!” and I’m like “heck, yeah!” – it’s spicy, sweet, smoky, salty, what more could you want? Everyone knows that bacon makes everything better, but so do almonds!  Almonds are little powerhouses of nutrition – a handful (about an ounce or 23 nuts) has 163 calories, 6 grams of protein and 14 grams of heart-heathy fat along with all sorts of essential vitamins, minerals and other nutrients.  I especially like almonds for a snack because they are hunger-squashing and keep me satisfied until my next meal!

 Smokehouse Bacon Almond Granola winning snack for game day.Smokehouse Bacon Almond Granola

A bowl full of this Salty-Sweet Smokehouse Almond Bacon Granola is definitely going to satisfy the snack cravings of the biggest armchair linebacker or peppiest cheerleader at your party. The bacon definitely pushes this easy granola recipe into the Snacking Hall of Fame (okay, I made that up), but it is also balanced with healthy ingredients like whole grain oats, dried pears (or apples), quinoa, flax seeds, real maple syrup and more.

 

 

What’s the craziest bacon recipe you’ve made or tried? What is your go-to game day snack? Please share in the comments below – XOXO, Jennifer

Smokehouse Bacon Almond Granola winning snack for game day.
Spicy-Sweet Smokehouse Bacon Almond Granola
Print Recipe
Take game day flavor to the next level with with this bacon and almond granola that is spicy, sweet, salty, smoky -- and so amazingly delicious.
Servings Prep Time
4 cups 5 minutes
Cook Time Passive Time
20 minutes 10 minutes cooling
Servings Prep Time
4 cups 5 minutes
Cook Time Passive Time
20 minutes 10 minutes cooling
Smokehouse Bacon Almond Granola winning snack for game day.
Spicy-Sweet Smokehouse Bacon Almond Granola
Print Recipe
Take game day flavor to the next level with with this bacon and almond granola that is spicy, sweet, salty, smoky -- and so amazingly delicious.
Servings Prep Time
4 cups 5 minutes
Cook Time Passive Time
20 minutes 10 minutes cooling
Servings Prep Time
4 cups 5 minutes
Cook Time Passive Time
20 minutes 10 minutes cooling
Ingredients
Servings: cups
Instructions
  1. In small food processor or with knife, chop 3 ounces of almonds (1/2 Blue Diamond can); leave other half of can whole. Set both aside.
  2. In large skillet, cook bacon over medium-high until moderately crispy (don’t over-cook). Remove bacon to drain on paper towels and coarsely chop up. Don’t dispose of bacon fat.
  3. Keep about ½ cup of bacon fat in skillet along with all the delicious crispy bits left behind. Add cayenne pepper and stir into bacon fat until fragrant, about 1 minute. Add maple syrup to this mixture, stirring constantly and allowing to bubble up for about one minute. Remove from heat. In medium bowl, toss together oats, quinoa, flax seed, chopped bacon, dried pears, chopped almonds and whole almonds. Stir oat mixture into bacon fat - maple syrup mixture until evenly coated.
  4. Preheat oven to 325 F degrees. Spread granola mixture out onto baking sheet and lightly press down with back of spoon to compact a bit.
  5. Bake at 325 F for about 10 – 12 minutes. Remove from oven and allow to cool for 15 minutes and them break into chunks
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