Healthy Holiday Side Dishes for Procrastinators

It’s a one-week countdown to Thanksgiving! I’ve noticed that on-task, super-planning people have already locked in their holiday menus and have loading up their carts at the market. I’m a bit more of a slacker, waiting until the final days to formulate my feast. No shame in my game, I get side tracked with work, working out and life!Holiday Side Dishes for the Procrastinator

If you are a like-minded lollygagger, you’ll appreciate my guide to Healthy Holiday Side Dishes for the Procrastinator. Most of these side dish recipes take between 15 and 30 minutes to make and combine pantry staples with fresh ingredients you can STILL find in the produce department. Read on to get six quick and easy recipes that actually look like you put some effort into it. Continue reading

Almond Joy Cookie Brittle { Gluten Free }

Tracking PixelThis is a sponsored post written by me on behalf of Bob’s Red Mill.

I’ve been baking for others, ever since I was a grade school girl! I would pour over my now vintage children’s cookbook thoughtfully deciding which recipe would suit a family member or friend best. A specialty I made for my little brother nearly every Saturday morning was a muffin dunked in butter and rolled in cinnamon sugar. I have no doubt he’d remember, if you asked! Almond Joy Cookie Brittle with Bob's Red Mill Gluten-Free Baking Blend

I wish my brother was closer so I could share a batch of my gluten-free Almond Joy Cookie Brittle with him, especially since his birthday and the holidays are fast approaching! Oh wait, I can ship the cookies his way and turn an ordinary day into the sweetest mail day ever!   Read on to get the recipe, find out how baking for others benefits all parties involved, and learn how Bob’s Red Mill helped make this batch of cookie brittle the best yet!  Continue reading

Lemon Ginger Green Beans with Almonds + Holiday Sides

November is here and it’s time to start thinking about healthy Thanksgiving side dishes! One of the best things, other than gathering with family and friends, is the sheer smorgasbord of side dishes that go along with the meal. On a normal day, I’m lucky to get two plant-based accompaniments with our main protein, but during the holidays it’s more like a dozen delicious things to go alongside our turkey or roast.Lemon Ginger Green Beans with Almon

This recipe for Lemon-Ginger Green Beans with Almonds is a snap to make and so much fresher and fitter than the creamy green bean casserole of yore.  Read on to get the 10-minute recipe and a few other ideas for vegetable side dishes. Continue reading

Baked Butternut Squash Dip

Holiday get-togethers are starting to gear up, from Halloween potlucks in the cul-de-sac to Thanksgiving gatherings, soon enough! When I need an autumn recipe that’s easy (but looks like I took some time with it) and healthy (but seems rich and indulgent), my blender recipe for Baked Butternut Ricotta Dip is a favorite to share.

Ranch Butternut Ricotta Dip bread in pan

Read on to get all the recipe details and find out my secret ingredient in this comforting, ooey-gooey appetizer. Continue reading

Cranberry Orange Bourbon Beef Stew w/ Sage Romano Grits + #StubbsInsider Giveaway

This post and giveaway was sponsored by Stubb’s Legendary Bar-B-Q , however all opinions, comments and enthusiasm are my own.

Cranberry Orange Bourbon Beef Stew on Sage Romano Grits

This holiday season, I’ve made a vow to make all my meals with love, happiness and smiles. Not just the big celebration dinners, but also the crazy night meals when we’ve been out all day running errands, visiting with family or volunteering with our favorite charity (Brown Santa).  Some times on these chaotic nights, I get grumbly about making supper, but shortcuts with Stubb’s Legendary Bar-B-Q products  keep me grinning even after sitting in shopping mall traffic or spending hours trying to figure out which bulb in a string of lights has burned out.

Cranberry Orange Bourbon Beef Stew on Sage Romano Grits in slow cooker

For this slow cooker recipe, I’ve used Stubb’s Smokehouse Bourbon Cookin’ Sauce. This convienient product (which is gluten free) works in both the skillet and slow cooker. It contains a flavorful sauce pouch made with bourbon, garlic and rosemary along with a spice packet that can be used to prep the meat. Browning Stew Meat

One little hint extra step I have for this quick and easy recipe is to brown the stew meat before putting in the crock pot. While this may seem unnecessary (and you can skip if absolutely pressed for time), it does create an amazing caramelization on the beef which helps to create a more complex flavor experience. Cranberry Orange Bourbon Beef Stew on Sage Romano Grits -  an easy slow cooker meat that will satisfy your guests this holiday season.

Don’t just think of Stubb’s ONLY as a way to fix traditional Texas BBQ. They have so many delicious Bar-B-Q sauces, marinades, rubs and Cookin’ Sauces that offer bold flavors to spur on your creativity in the kitchen this holiday season.

Of course, I love to create my own new holiday recipes as well as revisit family food traditions, but why recreate the wheel on every single side dish for Thanksgiving, Christmas and other winter family gatherings when Stubb’s has complied a delicious collection of recipes for the season?! stubbs-roasted-brussels-sprouts

Yes-sir-ee, the Stubb’s Roasted Brussels Sprouts will be a delicious compliment to my Slow Cooker Cranberry-Orange Beef Stew with Rosemary Garlic Grits. You need to try these, so amazing!   

stubbs-cranberry-orange-beef-packageTo help you get cooking with down-home but daring style, I’m hosting a giveaway for one reader to win a Stubb’s Prize Pack that includes a spatula, T-shirt, Stubb’s hat and coupons for free Stubb’s products (yeehaw)!  Just enter via the Rafflecopter app below:

a Rafflecopter giveaway


Cranberry Orange Bourbon Beef Stew on Sage Romano Grits
Cranberry Orange Bourbon Beef Stew w/ Sage Romano Grits
Print Recipe
Warm up with this tasty beef stew that is slightly spicy, sweet and tangy -- it makes a hearty meal topped on grits but you can also pair with pasta, potatoes, and whole grains.
Servings Prep Time
4 to 6 servings 10 minutes
Cook Time
4 hours
Servings Prep Time
4 to 6 servings 10 minutes
Cook Time
4 hours
Cranberry Orange Bourbon Beef Stew on Sage Romano Grits
Cranberry Orange Bourbon Beef Stew w/ Sage Romano Grits
Print Recipe
Warm up with this tasty beef stew that is slightly spicy, sweet and tangy -- it makes a hearty meal topped on grits but you can also pair with pasta, potatoes, and whole grains.
Servings Prep Time
4 to 6 servings 10 minutes
Cook Time
4 hours
Servings Prep Time
4 to 6 servings 10 minutes
Cook Time
4 hours
Instructions
for stew
  1. Sprinkle stew meat with spice packet from Stubb’s Slow Cooker Sauce (or simply season with salt and pepper for alternative preparation).
  2. Heat large, heavy-duty skillet to medium-high heat and brown stew meat in single layer. Don’t overcrowd, work in batches if necessary, draining cooking liquid between.
  3. Add browned stew meat to 6-quart slow cooker along with chopped onion, cranberry sauce, orange segments, orange zest, bourbon and Stubb’s Slow Cooker Sauce. Stir to combine.
  4. Top slow cooker with lid and simmer on high heat for 4 to 6 hours, or until beef tender. If desired, add 1 cup fresh cranberries to last 1 hour of simmering.
  5. *** If you can’t find Stubb’s Cookin’ Smokehouse Bourbon Flavor, the use this substitute. To season stew meat before browning, sprinkle with mixture of 1 teaspoon salt, 1 teaspoon ground pepper and ½ teaspoon red pepper flakes. For liquid, add 1 cup beef broth, 1 teaspoon chipotle chile powder, 1 teaspoon ground cumin and add an additional 1 ounce of bourbon whiskey.
for grits
  1. Add water to saucepan and bring to boil over medium-high heat. Slowly stir in grits, sage and salt and then reduce to medium-low for simmer.
  2. Simmer for about 7 minutes stirring frequently. When thickened, stir in cheese until incorporated. Remove from heat.
  3. To serve, place a mound of grits on a plate and use a slotted spoon to remove beef, onions and fruit from slow cooker. Top with optional garnishes of grated orange zest and chopped parsley.
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Paleo Butternut Squash Crab Bisque + Start of Holiday Shopping

Paleo Butternut Squash Crab BisqueI love me some soup in colder weather and finally it feels like autumn has arrived in Austin – so bring on the soups, bisques, broths, stews, chilies, cioppinos and other steaming hot heaven in a bowl. A soup that always catches my attention when I’m out running errands is the Butternut Squash Crab Soup from Whole Foods – I indulge in a to-go carton every once in a while but I’d be so much happier if it was more Paleo-friendly.  So, out with the dairy cream and in with the coconut milk, it’s an easy swap that keeps my recipe for Paleo Butternut Squash Crab Bisque a rich and creamy winner.

Paleo Butternut Squash Crab Bisque

Enjoy a nice, big bowl for dinner – or pour into a thermos for lunch at work or a warming treat in the football fan stands. If you can’t find or afford the crab, small salad-sized shrimp from the frozen aisle make a pretty darn good substitute.

 

Songa Designs Bella & Bling CuffAlso, with the holidays coming up, I want to share with you a fabulous gift idea for the women in your life — like a mom, sister, special aunt or best running friend. Even though it seems waaaay to early to start holiday shopping, it’s really not — the craziness of the season sneaks up so fast and I hate to be scrambling for last-minute gift ideas. So, how about a piece of gorgeous, artisan-made jewelry from Songa Designs?! I’m totally loving this Bella & Bling cuff bracelet, it’s a little tough and a lot pretty — and better yet, it’s made with natural fibers and reclaimed stones by women in Rwanda who built up this business to self-empower and create a better life. Be part of this circle of extraordinary women and check out the lookbook — if you’d like to order,use FITFORK15 at checkout for 15% off through Dec. 16th.

Soup or salad — or both? Have you started holiday shopping yet? Please share in the comments below – XOXO, Jennifer

 

 

Paleo Butternut Squash Crab Bisque
Paleo Butternut Squash Crab Bisque
Print Recipe
Warm up with a mug full of this delicious crab bisque brimming with the natural sweetness of apple along with my favorite winter squash.
Servings Prep Time
4 servings 10 minutes
Cook Time
1 hour
Servings Prep Time
4 servings 10 minutes
Cook Time
1 hour
Paleo Butternut Squash Crab Bisque
Paleo Butternut Squash Crab Bisque
Print Recipe
Warm up with a mug full of this delicious crab bisque brimming with the natural sweetness of apple along with my favorite winter squash.
Servings Prep Time
4 servings 10 minutes
Cook Time
1 hour
Servings Prep Time
4 servings 10 minutes
Cook Time
1 hour
Instructions
  1. Add coconut oil to large stock pot and heat over medium heat.
  2. Saute onion and apple for 5 to 10 minutes, or until softened, stirring constantly.
  3. Add garlic and sauté until fragrant, about 1 to 2 minutes.
  4. Add butternut squash, seafood stock, coconut milk, and cinnamon; bring to a boil.
  5. Cover, reduce heat to low, and simmer for 45 minutes.
  6. Blend with immersion blender until smooth, and season with salt, black pepper and cayenne – adding more or less, to taste.
  7. Stir in lump crab meat and continue to simmer soup for approximately 5 minutes or warmed through.
  8. Garnish with chopped Italian parsley and additional sprinkle of cayenne.
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10 Reasons to Give Thanks for Sweet Potatoes and 9 Recipes

10 Reasons to be Thankful for Sweet PotatoesPerhaps the official vegetable of the holiday season, sweet potatoes are a delicious addition to a healthy diet any day of the year.   It’s easy to eat well with sweet potatoes — they are packed with essential vitamins, minerals and other important nutrients that are naturally designed to help your body attain peak performance.  If you don’t like sweet potatoes, keep an open mind (and mouth) and look beyond your grandmother’s icky-sticky, marshmallow sweet potato casserole — there are so many delicious ways to enhance the taste of this sweet, mildly earthy tuber. In a list I originally compiled for Core Power, here are my top 10 reasons to be thankful for the humble sweet potato — my favorite reason may be #5 – a healthy source of complex carbohydrates. Unless logistically impossible, I always include sweet potato with my night-before-a-big-race meal. Also, don’t forget to read down to discover my collection of Family Favorite Sweet Potato Recipes:

  1. Inexpensive Eats: The cheap price tag on sweet potatoes (less than $1/lb.) chops the “it costs too much to eat healthy” argument to the core.
  2. Year-Round Availability: While peak season for sweet potatoes is in the fall, this produce department staple is easy to load-up on year round thanks to a long shelf life and global economy.
  3. Stockpile Friendly: Don’t rush out and buy a lifetime supply, but do fill your cart when you see a sale — sweet potatoes stay good in the pantry for a season or two. Freshness can be maintained for up to six months when stored in a pantry, cabinet, unheated garage or other dark, cool space ideally in the 50 F degree range.
  4. Versatile Veggie: Sweet potatoes are awesome baked and eaten plain or can be cooked with much for creativity. Try them mashed, grilled in planks, oven-roasted in wedges, or add chunks to salads, stews and sandwich wraps. Sweet potato puree also adds lots of interest to smoothies, soups and baked goods. See my round-up of personal sweet potato recipes below!
  5. Healthy Complex Carbohydrates: Natural sugars in sweet potatoes are the “good” kind of carbs that are slowly released into the blood stream, providing sustained and balanced energy to fuel your body and brain. No blood sugar spikes and subsequent sugar crashes with this tasty tuber!
  6. Amazing Antioxidants: Orange-fleshed sweet potatoes are a super source of beta-carotene (from vitamin A) that can help protect eyes and damage from the sun, among other things. Purple-fleshed sweet potatoes feature powerful anthocyanins which have important antioxidant anti-inflammatory properties.
  7. Vitamin Rich: Sweet potatoes are packed with vitamins, high in vitamin A, vitamin B5, B6, thiamin, niacin and riboflavin. In fact, this veggie offers 100 percent of the daily value for Vitamin A, a powerhouse shown to be beneficial for anti-aging, eyesight and cancer prevention.
  8. Quercetin Factor: Quercetin, a dietary flavonoid, is abundant in sweet potatoes. Studies have shown that quercetin can help lower LDL cholesterol, reduce inflammation and serves as a natural antihistamine to fight seasonal allergies. Additionally, studies on athletes have shown that this phytochemical bolsters health during the 3 to 72 hour window of impaired immunity following heavy training and also may help increase endurance.
  9. Potassium: Potassium is a mineral that helps your body balance fluids and minerals, maintain a health blood pressure, and keep your neuro-muscular system function normally. A medium, baked sweet potato offers about 450 mg of potassium (about12 percent of your daily value) — even more than the famous banana!
  10. Iron: Grown under the soil, sweet potatoes are a great source for iron, a mineral needed for oxygen delivery throughout the blood system. A surprising number of athletes are low in this important mineral (foot strike can actually be a contributor to deficiency) and an iron boost can help restore energy, resistance to stress and optimal immune functioning.

Family Favorite Sweet Potato Recipes for Thanksgiving, Holidays and everyday weeknight dinners.

Cinnamon Chicken Cashew Sweet PotatoI also love this no-recipe “recipe” from the CookingLight.com blog, Simmer & Boil — Cinnamon Chicken and Cashews on Baked Sweet Potato. Just toss a half-teaspoon or of ground cinnamon with warmed shredded chicken, pile on top of a baked and fluffed sweet potato, sprinkle with cashews and dig in!  What an quick and easy solution for busy weeknight dinners during the holiday season!

 

What is the one Thanksgiving dish you can’t live without? Do you have any big plans for the holiday?  Please share in the comments below – XOXO, Jennifer

 

Bourbon Pumpkin Caramel Sauce – Pour This on Everything!

Bourbon Pumpkin Caramel SauceI hope you’re wearing floaties — if you’re anything like me, you’ll be jumping headfirst into this Bourbon Pumpkin Caramel Sauce and eating your way out. This super easy recipe is a life-saver for last-minute fall holiday entertaining and any and every day when you just want to pack in a little extra pumpkin (hello antioxidents and fiber), it can literally be made in 5 minutes and served a zillion different ways.

Pin this Bourbon Pumpkin Caramel Sauce, it’s a keeper!

Bourbon Pumpkin Caramel is a fall season treat that is delicious on everything from fruit slices, pound cake, and other desserts and autumn and thanksgiving treats.

Serve on apple slices for the ultimate healthy fall treat.

Bourbon Pumpkin Caramel Sauce om apples

Or, serve on pound cake . . . . or on ice cream, yogurt, in a smoothie, on a pie, by the spoon. You get the idea.

Bourbon Pumpkin Caramel Sauce

freshsummitThis is one of the half-dozen recipes I’ll be dishing up on behalf of Litehouse Foods at the Produce Marketing Associations Fresh Summit Convention & Expo in Atlanta, GA this weekend.

Stay tuned for more yumminess!
Sugar Free Pumpkin Protein Donuts with Cinnamon Frosting

 

If you need more pumpkin love, don’t forget about my Sugar Free Pumpkin Spice Donuts . . .

Not So Scary Pumpkin Spice Latte

 

 

 

 

. . .and Not-So-Scary Pumpkin Spice Latte.

 

 

 

 

 

 

And, you can always check out all the comfy, goodness in Cooking Light’s collection of pumpkin bread recipes.  Feel free to pour my Bourbon Pumpkin Caramel Sauce over any of these!
Pumpkin Bread and Muffin REcipes

What would you pour this sauce on? What is your favorite pumpkin treat of the fall? Are you sick of pumpkin yet? Please share in the comments below – XOXO, Jennifer

Bourbon Pumpkin Caramel Sauce
Bourbon Pumpkin Caramel Sauce
Print Recipe
Bourbon Pumpkin Caramel Sauce
Bourbon Pumpkin Caramel Sauce
Print Recipe
Ingredients
Servings:
Instructions
  1. Add water and bourbon and bring to boil over medium high heat. Boil for one minute to cook off alcohol.
  2. Lower heat and add caramel and stir until dissolved. Stir in pumpkin until combined.
  3. Serve warm. Keep in in fridge for up to a week.
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