Fit & Fast Butternut Squash Recipes for Every Occasion

Behold the butternut! It’s a big ole winter squash, but don’t let the size intimidate you and keep you from making butternut squash recipes! It’s delicious, healthy, versatile as a recipe ingredient and really not that hard to prep (plus, you can always have the store do the work). it and FAst Butternut Squash Recipes for every occasion

I’ve got bounty of fit and fast butternut squash recipes, from snacks to salads to soups, that will help you use up all the butternut squash you’ve been blessed with! Read on for a week’s worth of my favorite dishes: Continue reading

12-Minute Lemony Noodle + Zoodle Toss

Sigh, sometimes you feel like zoodles, other times you feel like traditional noodles. What’s a hungry gal or guy to do? The solution, a plate full of 12 Minute Zoodle & Noodle Toss that boasts both!

12 Minute Zoodle Noodle Toss

True, using spiralized veggies cuts out grains and, subsequently, a lot of the carbs. But, sometimes a hard-working athlete needs a little traditional pasta to help fuel the proverbial engine.   Get your mouth and motor running with this easy-peasy recipe, read on for the deets!  Continue reading

This Niçoise Tortellini Salad Says Summer!

Pack some pasta salad, it’s the perfect picnic food! Whether you are hanging lakeside with the kids all day or heading to a summer concert in the park with your sweetie, prepping a pasta salad for the cooler makes for a fresh, flavorful and fit meal later.Niçoise Tortellini Salad

Plus, picnic recipes like my popular Niçoise Tortellini Salad are super simple and speedy to assemble – you know I’m spending the time savings outdoors and out of the kitchen! Continue reading

Tidings of Comfort Food & Joy – Grilled Cheese Steak, Bacon Mac, Chicken Soup ‘n More

Today, I am bringing you tidings of comfort (food) and joy in honor of National Comfort Food Day (December 5th). I believe it’s no coincidence that this feel-good food holiday is falling on a Monday. And, not just any Monday, but the day after I struggled through a cold, windy and rainy marathon.

jen-and-jonathan-san-antonio-marathon-2016Honestly, I’m still feeling a little chilled to the bone, depleted, and licking battle wounds, and embracing the opportunity to take a MAJOR rest day, hang out in my PJs and fuzzy slippers, and make comfort food my new best friend.

Y’all know I typically eat reasonably, mostly clean . . . but I’m never going to deny myself food I’m craving for comfort every now and then. Sometimes your body is telling you to eat these things for a reason, other times it’s strictly soul satisfying. Regardless, when you let go of the guilt and give your food worries a rest day, it tastes even better!

Brazilian Grilled Cheese Steak SandwichBrazilian Grilled Cheese Steak Sandwich – This is what happens when a Philly Cheese Steak meets an American Grilled Cheese meets a Brazilian Bauru sandwich? You can thank me later. Recipe originally developed for my friends at BeefLovingTexans.com, and shared for you at bottom of post!

Brazilian Grilled Cheese Steak Sandwich ith Jalapeno Chimichurri is a delicious lunch or dinner that they whole family will love.

Bacon & Blue Cheese Mac – Ahh, most any pasta dish is comforting, but mac and cheese is a like coming home after being away from loved ones for too long. The addition of blue cheese and bacon makes the reunion even better!

Bacon & Blue Cheese Mac

Comforting Chicken & Rice Soup – When it’s drafty and cold, and your feeling run down and even under-the-weather, this easy chicken and rice soup comes to the rescue in a snap. And, while slurping up a big bowl is comforting to the core, it’s also a healthy choice!

Comforting Chicken and Rice Soup

Simply the Best Chocolate Chip Cookies – They are not sugar-free, calorie-free nor carb-free, but these buttery, chewy chippers are a treat worth treating yourself to!

jennifer fisher thefitfork best chocolate chip cookie

Root Beer Float Fudge –  Imagine if you could have the yummy flavor of root beer and vanilla ice cream in fudge format? Well, you can thanks to this recipe I develop a few years back for the magazine Simple & Delicious. While, I wouldn’t eat the whole pan at once, I certainly say CHEERS to a piece for a sweet treat.

2013_07 rootbeer float fudge

So, what is your go-to comfort food? Do you prefer sweet or savory? What are you making for dinner tonight?! Please share in the comments, XOXO- Jennifer 

Brazilian Grilled Cheese Steak Sandwich
Tidings of Comfort Food & Joy – Beefy Grilled Cheese, Bacon Mac, Chicken Soup ‘n More
Print Recipe
Brazilian Bauru meets Pilly Cheesesteak meets an American diner grilled cheese -- this easy pannini style sandwich makes a delicious lunch or dinner.
Servings Prep Time
4 servings 10 minutes
Servings Prep Time
4 servings 10 minutes
Brazilian Grilled Cheese Steak Sandwich
Tidings of Comfort Food & Joy – Beefy Grilled Cheese, Bacon Mac, Chicken Soup ‘n More
Print Recipe
Brazilian Bauru meets Pilly Cheesesteak meets an American diner grilled cheese -- this easy pannini style sandwich makes a delicious lunch or dinner.
Servings Prep Time
4 servings 10 minutes
Servings Prep Time
4 servings 10 minutes
Ingredients
Servings: servings
Instructions
  1. Pre-make chimichurri by adding all ingredients to small blender or food processor. Pulse on and off in 10 second increments to break up ingredients into coarse sauce. Set aside.
  2. Heat large skilled to medium-high. Add sliced sirloin and cook, stirring constantly, for 3 to 4 minutes. Beef will be ready to remove from pan once lightly browned on edges and pink has been just taken off center. Remove from skillet and drain on paper towels.
  3. n same skillet (reserved with a tiny bit of beef fat and bits) add onion slices and cook over medium high, stirring as need, for about 6 to 8 minutes or until softened and beginning to caramelize. Add beef back into skillet with onions along with tomatoes, salt and red pepper flakes; stir to combine.
  4. Meanwhile, heat Panini press or clean skillet to medium-high heat.
  5. Butter outer sides of two slices of bread and layer each side with mozzarella. Place slice of bread, butter side down, on pan and top with ¼ of beef mixture. Add top piece of cheese and bread.
  6. Cook for approximately 3 to 4 minutes per side until bread turning golden brown and cheese melting. Repeat for remaining sandwiches.
  7. To serve, lift up tops of sandwiches and drizzle with chimichurri. Serve hot.
Share this Recipe
Powered byWP Ultimate Recipe

Beefy Butternut-Carrot-Coconut Cream Noodle Bowls … Mmmm, Pasta!

This post is part of a social shopper marketing insight campaign with Pollinate Media Group®  & La Moderna but all my opinions are my own. #pmedia #MyExceptionalPasta #GoldenHarvest  http://my-disclosur.es/OBsstV

Eating bowl full of La Moderna Golden Harvest NoodlesNoodle 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!

Molasses Steak on Butternut Carrot coconut Cream Pasta seems rich and sinful, but is actually a health and diary-free dinner.

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. Butternut Carrot Coconut "Alfredo"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.

butternut-carrot-coconut-cream-noodle-bowl-overhead-la-moderna

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!

butternut-carrot-coconut-cream-sauceThe 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.

la-moderna-producgts

La Moderna comes in many familiar past shapes including spaghetti, elbow, rigate and rotini and you can find them at your local Walmart, that’s where I shop for mine. Check out the product locator before you head out shopping! Also, learn more about the brand and stay up to date on their latest products and promotions by following their social media – La Moderna Facebook, La Moderna Twitter, La Moderna Instagram, and La Moderna Pinterest

beefy-butternut-carrot-coconut-cream-pasta-toes

What is your favorite pasta shape? What is your favorite sauce or toppings? Do you use pasta to “carb-load” ? Please share in the comment below – XOXO, Jennifer

Beefy Butternut-Carrot-Coconut Cream Noodle Bowls
Print Recipe
Beef up your noodle bowl with protein rich pasta and a rich, creamy but healthy dairy-free sauce made from butternut, coconut, carrots and turmeric.
Servings Prep Time
4 servings 15 minutes
Cook Time
30 minutes
Servings Prep Time
4 servings 15 minutes
Cook Time
30 minutes
Beefy Butternut-Carrot-Coconut Cream Noodle Bowls
Print Recipe
Beef up your noodle bowl with protein rich pasta and a rich, creamy but healthy dairy-free sauce made from butternut, coconut, carrots and turmeric.
Servings Prep Time
4 servings 15 minutes
Cook Time
30 minutes
Servings Prep Time
4 servings 15 minutes
Cook Time
30 minutes
Ingredients
For marinade & steak:
For Pasta & Sauce:
Servings: servings
Instructions
  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. Transfer to individual bowls or serve family style on a platter. Top with sliced beef. Garnish with chopped parsley and unsweetened, shredded coconut.
Share this Recipe
Powered byWP Ultimate Recipe

Dragon Fruit Coulis Fish with Pink Rice Vermecilli

Dragon Fruit Coulis Atlantic Cod with Pinkened Rice VermicelliMake dinner “Pretty in Pink” with this lovely and light recipe for Dragon Fruit Coulis Atlantic Cod with Pink Rice Vermicelli. Dragon Fruit is just so fabulous and exotic, I get woozy with excitement when I find some beautiful ones at the market just waiting for loving attention.   This easy-to-make fish dinner is as delicious and nutritious as it is lovely to look at —  how fun would it be for a spa party, girl’s night in, special celebration or even just an impressive (and simple) weeknight dinner.  I don’t like my food to look or taste boring, do you?!

Dragon Fruit Coulis Atlantic Cod

I get my Atlantic Cod and other fish and seafood from SizzleFish.com. Their flaky, white cod is caught on Georges Bank off New England and Nova Scotia – they chose only premium fish for customers and they never try to pass of Pacific Cod (a completely different, cheaper variety of fish) as some other vendors do.  I love this company that makes it quick and easy to make a healthy meal with their flash-frozen seafood collections. These assortments of high-quality fish, shrimp and other seafood are mindfully sourced from the best the world has to offer and shipped straight to my front door in perfectly –portioned, individually vacuum-sealed pouches. SizzleFish.com is the perfect way to make sure there is always quality protein around for muscle-making.

****Note: While I used Cod, you can use any type of firm, white-fleshed fish for this recipe. Also, mung cellophane noodles can be swapped for the rice vermicelli

Dragon Fruit Coulis Atlantic Cod with Pinkend Rice Vermecelli -- as pretty as it is healthy to eat!

Do you know much about the Dragon Fruit? It’s also referred to as a Pitaya, Strawberry Pear or Mood Flower and is the unusually striking fruit of a cactus – don’t worry, there are no thorns or stickers on it!  There are different types of Drago Fruit – pink or yellow exterior and white or magenta interiors speckled with tiny edible seeds. Despite their showy appearance, the taste is quite mild, similar to a kiwi –the purple-pink fleshed ones will actually stain your hands  — and I took advantage of that dye-like property for the creation of my Pink Dragon Fruit Rice Noodles.

Pink Dragon Fruit Rice Vermacelli are gluten-free noodles soaked in water with this exotic fruit to create the vibrant color!

 

Have you ever tasted a dragon fruit? What is your favorite color? Please share in the comments below — XOXO, Jennifer

Dragon Fruit Coulis Atlantic Cod with Pinkened Rice Vermicelli
Dragon Fruit Coulis Cod with Pinkened Rice Vermecilli
Print Recipe
In 15 minutes, you can make a "Pretty in Pink" fish dinner that is almost to beautiful to eat -- but please do, this recipe is tasty and healthy!
Servings Prep Time
2 servings 5 minutes
Cook Time
5 minutes
Servings Prep Time
2 servings 5 minutes
Cook Time
5 minutes
Dragon Fruit Coulis Atlantic Cod with Pinkened Rice Vermicelli
Dragon Fruit Coulis Cod with Pinkened Rice Vermecilli
Print Recipe
In 15 minutes, you can make a "Pretty in Pink" fish dinner that is almost to beautiful to eat -- but please do, this recipe is tasty and healthy!
Servings Prep Time
2 servings 5 minutes
Cook Time
5 minutes
Servings Prep Time
2 servings 5 minutes
Cook Time
5 minutes
Ingredients
Servings: servings
Instructions
  1. Rub fish with salt on all sides.
  2. Heat coconut oil to medium high in small skillet. Add fish and cook for 2 to 3 minutes on each side or until flaky and no longer transparent.
  3. Meanwhile, add dragon fruit and noodles to large bowl and top with very hot, almost boiling water. Let this soak for 3 to 5 minutes or until noodles softened.
  4. Carefully remove "nests" of noodles. Pour liquid through small-mesh strainer to reserve dragon fruit. Set noodles aside.
  5. Remove fish from skillet. Add reserved dragon fruit, white wine, vinegar, and sriracha and cook for several minutes over medium high until fruit breaking down and liquid reduced.
  6. To serve, place fish on noodle nest and top with dragon fruit coulis. Add additional vegetables if desired.
Share this Recipe
Powered byWP Ultimate Recipe

Willpower Rest Day – Bacon & Blue Cheese Mac

Bacon & Blue Cheese MacI try to eat green and eat clean, but sometimes I need to give it a rest! And, now I have the science to prove that it’s okay to indulge in my Bacon & Blue Cheese Mac recipe every once in a while. A recent study says that our willpower is like a muscle, after use it becomes fatigued and is no longer able to perform at peak levels. After a lot of use, your needs to take a break, just like you need to recover after a hard run or workout!  The scientists studying decision making called it “self-regulation failure,” and people in the food and fitness world call it a “cheat day” when these decisions come to food – I don’t like those terms and am rebranding the idea a Willpower Rest Day!

 sauce for blue cheese mac

This pot of cheesy goodness is about to be poured onto noodles.

I first developed this rich and creamy recipe for macaroni and cheese for Litehouse Foods using blue cheese crumbles from their Simply Artisan Reserve line of cheese. It’s become famous with friends, family and readers of the Living Litehouse Blog. And, also beloved by the thousands of people who have sampled it at Fresh Summit in Atlanta and recently the Winter Fancy Food Show in San Francisco. I’m not trying to brag (oh, who am I kidding?!), but I’m heard exclamations like, “OMG, this is the BEST macaroni and cheese I’ve EVER eaten.”

BAco

Smoky, salty bacon complement bold blue cheese – there is a lot of umami action going on with this fancy mac and cheese. However, the flavors aren’t so over the top that the kids will be freaked out. However, maybe you WANT to keep them out of it (more for you) so just double up on the blue cheese! Have I convinced you to give your willpower a rest day and make up a batch of this delicious baked macaroni and cheese recipe?  This baked pasta recipe can even be made ahead and then popped into the oven an hour before serving.

Bacon and Blue Cheese Mac

 

Also, check out these macaroni and cheese making tips from from Cooking Light — everything you need to know to satisfy your mac madness!

What is your favorite comfort food? Do you rest your willpower every now and then? Fan of blue cheese? Please share in the comments below, XOXO — Jennifer 

Bacon & Blue Cheese Mac
Willp
Print Recipe
Treat yourself to this rich and creamy baked macaroni and cheese made with blue cheese and bacon -- delicious as a side dish to steak, a casserole for your pot luck or just straight out of the dish.
Servings Prep Time
8 servings 15 minutes
Cook Time
1 hour
Servings Prep Time
8 servings 15 minutes
Cook Time
1 hour
Bacon & Blue Cheese Mac
Willp
Print Recipe
Treat yourself to this rich and creamy baked macaroni and cheese made with blue cheese and bacon -- delicious as a side dish to steak, a casserole for your pot luck or just straight out of the dish.
Servings Prep Time
8 servings 15 minutes
Cook Time
1 hour
Servings Prep Time
8 servings 15 minutes
Cook Time
1 hour
Ingredients
Servings: servings
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 400 F degrees. Spray a baking dish with nonstick spray.
  2. Bring water to a boil and prepare pasta according to directions, but shaving 1-2 minutes off of the cooking time to keep al dente.
  3. Meanwhile, heat butter in medium saucepan over medium heat. When butter begins to sizzle, quickly add flour and whisk constantly until roux is golden, about 2 minutes.
  4. Pour in milk and whisk constantly, stirring until the mixture slightly thickens.
  5. Reduce heat to low and add in white cheddar and blue cheese a couple handfuls at a time until cheese melts and sauce is thickened.
  6. Stir in Blue Cheese Dressing. Stir in Instantly Fresh chives and season with salt and pepper.
  7. Add cooked pasta to baking dish. Pour cheese sauce over top, tossing to coat all the noodles.
  8. Cover top in panko bread crumb mixture.
  9. Bake for 30-35 minutes, or until top is golden and crunchy and sauce is bubbling. Top with crumbled bacon
Share this Recipe
Powered byWP Ultimate Recipe

Fit, Flavorful, Fast Dinner Ideas – Ragu and My Funny Family

I have to admit, making long complicated recipes is NOT a family tradition. I do it sometimes, but not on typical nights when I am trying to fit in running, working out or watching the kids play their sports – you know, HAVING FUN!  Instead, I tend to fly by the seat of my pants and let creativity reign, based on what I happen to have in the fridge, produce bin and pantry. So, I guess you could say dinner traditions in my family of five are rooted in being quick and easy yet fresh and flavorful – you’ll see this with the two RAGÚ pasta sauce recipes I’m sharing today (Eight-Minute Egg & Zucchini Ragu and Low-Carb Chicken Club Zoodles).

Ragu pasta sauces are simmered in tradition and the perfect meal solution for my busy nights.

jen and dean college

Yeah, here we are in 1986 — the early Ragu days.

One ingredient that is always on hand help me pull off a speedy supper is RAGÚ® Pasta Sauce. When I say I’m a fan, I mean it – I’ve been eating the RAGÚ® Traditional Sauce (and now Organic Traditional) for 30 years beginning when I first met my husband in college (It’s the only sauce we eat)! Who has time for homemade, really?!

I appreciate how RAGÚ® does all hard work, and when I pop open the jar it tastes just like grandmother’s secret recipe that had been simmering all day.  That’s because RAGÚ® has super high standards and uses no artificial anything or high fructose corn syrup – it’s slowly simmered to add layers of insane flavor, just like Assunta’s (the single-mom founder) original recipe from way back in 1937.

So, this first vegetable pasta recipe is seriously made in eight minutes – Egg & Zucchini Ragu. It’s my go-to meal solution when totally slammed but in need of a nutritious meal packed with protein and fresh veggies. By the way, did you now that a serving of Ragu pasta sauces is the equivalent of two servings of veggies?!

Eight Minute Egg & Zucchini Ragu

Eight Minute Egg & Zucchini Ragu

  • 2 large zucchini, spiralized or cut in julienned strips
  • 1 cup Ragu Organic Traditional Sauce
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 2 to 4 eggs (depending on appetite)
  • Salt and Red Pepper flakes, to taste
  • Garnish – snipped basil

Directions: Place zucchini in microwave-safe bowl, top with lid slightly cracked. Steam in microwave for 1 ½ to 2 minutes or until softened, but not mushy.  Add pasta sauce and microwave for an additional 30 to 45 seconds, stirring well after to combine. Heat olive oil in small skillet and cook eggs sunny side up, until yolks set to preferred consistency. Top eggs on pasta and salt and pepper to taste. Garnish with snipped basil. Serves 2.

Low Carb Chicken Club Zoodles

My second under ten minute dinner fix (Low Carb Chicken Club Zoodles) is a yummy use for nights when I have some slowcooker chicken already in the fridge (I make big, big batches at once) or have swung by the store for a rotisserie chicken.  I love to use zucchini in place of traditional noodles to keep the grains and carbs down – I like to eat a higher protein diet and prefer most of my carbs to come from fruits and veggies.

Low Carb Chicken Club Zoodles

  • 2 large zucchini, spiralized or cut in julienned strips
  • 1 cup Ragu Organic Traditional Sauce
  • 12 ounces shredded slow cooker or rotisserie chicken with skin removed
  • 4 slices par-cooked bacon
  • 1 ounce shredded cheese of choice

Directions: Place zucchini in microwave-safe bowl, top with lid slightly cracked. Steam in microwave for 1 ½ to 2 minutes or until softened, but not mushy.  Add pasta sauce and chicken and microwave for an additional 60 seconds, stirring well after to combine. Wrap bacon in paper towel and microwave for 30 seconds or per package instructions. Sprinkle top of pasta with bacon and cheese before serving. Serves 2.

davis spoon balancing 2015I have another family dinner tradition to share – and it’s just being silly. With three now teenage boys, it can get pretty crazy and rowdy at the dinner table. More than one time, I’ve spewed water out my nose – the utensil balancing contests always crack me up.  We’ve been doing it for years, as you can see – youngest son holds the record number of spoons and forks balance.  Yes, we’re weird – but these are indelible (if insane) memories to enjoy along with the RAGÚ®  Pasta Sauce.

So, what are your favorite family dinner traditions – recipes or activities? Please share in the comments below – XOXO, Jennifer