I’ll admit that I go through food phases. For a while I was all about grilling chicken thighs and I’m pretty sure I ate that every day for lunch and sometimes dinner for a good couple of months. In the winter I get on a comfort food kick and make meatloaf, chili, and stew every week (or so it seems). As the season changes from winter to spring and back to winter again because Mother Nature can’t seem to make up her mind in Indiana, I find myself wanting spaghetti (or maybe its simply because my race season has started and I always want spaghetti when I’m running.) Either way – I’ve been playing around with using spaghetti squash, zucchini, and yellow squash as my noodles. But all in all, it is the same variation of the same thing – squash noodles and sauce on top. Then my friend sent me a link for baked pizza spaghetti pie. I thought I could do something like this but make it more like baked spaghetti and less like pizza plus add in my own favorite things. It makes a ton and I plan on eating it for lunch every day this week so I suppose I’ll share the rest with my husband so it won’t go to waste. Enjoy!
1 large (or 2 small) spaghetti squash
1 pound grass-fed ground beef
1 yellow onion, diced
1 green bell pepper, diced
1 cup mushrooms (your choice of kid), sliced
1 small can black olives, sliced
1 tablespoon coconut oil
1 cup – spaghetti sauce (no sugar added, I used Classico)
4 eggs, beaten
salt and pepper to taste
1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Grease an 8×8 glass baking dish, or I used a 2 quart dish which is a 7×11, either one will do, and set aside.
2. Cut spaghetti squash in half lengthwise. Remove seeds and threading. Place spaghetti squash cut side down on a baking sheet and bake for 20-25 minutes or until the skin of the squash gives when you press on it.
3. Using a fork, shred the squash into a large bowl and set aside.
4. Place a large pan over medium heat. Add ground beef, bell pepper, mushrooms, and onion. Cook until pink no longer remains in the beef and it is broken up into pieces. Add in olives and mix together.
5. Combine the beef mixture with the spaghetti squash in the bowl. Add 1 cup of spaghetti sauce, salt and pepper. Finally, add whisked eggs to the baking dish and mix everything together until you can no longer see the eggs.
6. Evenly distribute the mixture into your baking dish and bake for 45 minutes to 1 hour until a slight crust forms on top of your baked spaghetti. Let it rest for 5 minutes before serving.
Let’s face it – chocolate covered strawberries can be expensive. You order a bouquet from Edible Arrangements and you’re looking at a minimum of $29.oo for 1 dozen strawberries. $29.00?! WTF! And that is just for the strawberries and the box it comes in, it doesn’t include delivery charges. If you want them to be delivered, tack on an extra $12.00. So one dozen strawberries covered in chocolate (no sprinkles) will cost you an upwards of $40.00 when everything is all said and done. If you buy them from the bakery aisle at the grocery store, 1 single strawberry can cost you almost $2.00 a strawberry, or $5.99 for a 4 count with your Kroger Shopper Reward Card. Anyway you look at it, for a dozen chocolate covered strawberries you are still spending around $20.00. Ridiculous if you ask me.
There is a simple budget friendly solution. Make them yourself. Even making an allergy-friendly version of these decadent treats are cheaper than buying them already made. Today, this very minute, Kroger has 16 oz. containers of strawberries 2 for $4.00. So you can potentially get 24+ strawberries for $4.00. In addition to the strawberries, all you need is 1 package of Enjoy Life chocolate chips. These cost anywhere from $4.59 – $4.99 depending on where you shop. Sometimes you can get a really good buy 1 get 1 free deal from Earth Fare or $3.99 at Kroger when they are on sale. I tend to stock up when I can so I always have a bag on hand. Then you need a splash of whatever milk or milk substitute you drink at home. I drink unsweetened almond milk, but soy milk can work just fine and if you don’t have a dairy allergy – regular chocolate chips and milk work fine too.
Really – that’s all you need. $9.00 and a little bit of time and you’ve got yourself the perfect Valentine’s Day dessert, surprise, gift, etc.
1-2 16 oz. containers (depending on how many strawberries you want)
1 bag Enjoy Life Chocolate Chips
Splash of Almond Milk (I used unsweetened vanilla but you can use whatever you have on hand)
Parchment Paper to prevent sticking
- Wash strawberries and pat dry, remember to leave stems as they allow easy gripping for dipping into the chocolate.
- Place 2 cups of water in a pot and top with a glass bowl.
- On medium high heat, add all of the chocolate chips to the glass bowl. Stir gently with a spatula until chocolate is smooth. You can add your almond milk at this time until you get achieve your desired thickness. I found the Enjoy Life chips tend to have a thicker consistency when they are melted than regular chocolate chips.
- Remove the chocolate from the heat to avoid burning (no one wants burnt chocolate for Valentine’s Day). Dip the strawberries into the chocolate and place onto your parchment paper.
- Allow them to cool for 45 minutes. The strawberries will get a nice hard shell.
- The strawberries will keep for 3 days covered in the refrigerator.
My husband has been begging me to make biscuits and gravy for him for who knows how long. I have resisted making them because I can’t eat biscuits and I can’t eat the gravy that goes on them. So really, why would I waste all that precious prep and cook time in the kitchen to make something that smells delicious but then I can’t eat it. Exactly – you see my point.
Enter in gluten free Bisquick. Normally a large box of Bisquick is pretty cheap but as most of you know, nothing gluten free is ever cheap. A small box of gluten free Bisquick runs about $4.59 at Walmart. Now, could I make homemade gluten free biscuits on my own? Sure. Do I want to? Not particularly. So in this instance, I completely justified using a pre-made box mix to help me out and save me some time. Can you blame me?
To make the biscuits, all you have to do is follow the directions on the box. It really is that simple. Now that we have gotten over that part, it is time to move onto the delicious sausage gravy that you generously dump all over the biscuits. My mouth is literally watering just thinking about it.
1 pound ground pork or turkey
1 tablespoon almond flour/meal
1 tablespoon arrowroot powder
1 can coconut milk
2 teaspoons sage
1 teaspoon paprika
1/2 cup chicken stock (if needed)
salt & pepper to taste
- Saute the sausage in a large skillet until completely cooked. Remove sausage from the pan, saving about 2 tablespoons of the drippings from the sausage. Keep these drippings in the pan.
- Add the almond flour and arrowroot powder to the skillet and whisk with the sausage fat over medium-low heat, until a paste is formed, working to scrape up some of the sausage drippings. Be careful not to burn this. Patience is a virtue in this case.
- Pour in about 1/4 of the coconut milk, the sage, and paprika at this time and bring it up to medium heat, stirring often. It is key to get all of those delicious browned sausage bits into your gravy.
- Add the remaining coconut milk, stirring as you go to avoid lumps, and bring to a light simmer. Add your sausage back in, and simmer until gravy reaches your desired thickness. If your gravy becomes too thick for your liking, add some chicken stock to thin it out.
- Generously pour over your sliced biscuits and serve.
Anything coconut is all the rage these days. As I’m sure most of you know, coconut water has many health benefits. The first thing (which is the sole reason I tried drinking it in the first place) is that it is filled with natural electrolytes. It is a great way to replenish your electrolytes after an intense workout without any added sugar, preservatives, or ingredients you can’t pronounce. It is all-natural and who doesn’t like that? Drinks that are filled with natural electrolytes, like coconut water, are a great way to help lower your blood pressure. For all of you people out there who watch your carb intake, it has low sugar and carbohydrate levels. Plus it helps promote healthy skin, fat loss, and weight loss. If those aren’t reasons to start drinking coconut water, I’m not sure what is.
Naturally, I went out and started buying up coconut water. Who knew that there were so many coconut water options out there? I certainly didn’t! I’m not going to lie, the first time I took a swig of the cold, refreshing drink I about spit it out all over the place. NASTY! Eventually, I branched out a tried other brands. Some are better than others and I haven’t tried them all, but here is what I’ve found.
So now you know – if you know of other brands please feel free to add to the comment box. I’d love to know what brand you love (or hate). If you’ve never tried coconut water before, I challenge you to go ahead and give it a try. Your body will thank you for it!
A handful of my friends have read It Starts With Food and have begun (or finished) their Whole30 plan. Talking to them, reading their blogs (which I will repost on my blog as soon as I get permission), looking at their instagram meal photos, and reading Facebook posts has inspired me to take a closer look at how I’m eating day-to-day. Naturally, I hopped onto Amazon and not only purchased It Starts With Food, but also Well Fed: Paleo Recipes for People Who Love to Eat, and Paleo Slow Cooker. (My thought process was to give myself LOTS of choices when it comes to recipes.) My book has yet to come in the mail (but should be here soon), but since I’m already eating gluten-free and dairy-free, I figured why not eat clean most of the time now (I still am having difficulty giving up my non-dairy creamer and soy lattes) and then jump in whole-heartedly once my book arrives (and I have a chance to read it).
I’ve been on a big seafood kick lately. Maybe it is because I just got back from the shore where I dined on fresh oysters, clams, and crab legs all week. But either way, I just can’t seem to get enough of it (except fish…. I can’t seem to like any cooked fish except salmon). The other day I made jumbo tiger shrimp on the grill YUM!!! But a girl can only eat shrimp so often (who am I kidding, I could eat shrimp every day! sautéed, grilled, baked, stir-fried, in tacos… you get the picture). Actually, it is my husband who probably would get tired of eating shrimp every day so I went out on a limb and picked up a pound of jumbo sea scallops. I’ve never made scallops before, but you’ll never learn something new if you don’t try. The outcome was awesome! This meal is paleo friendly, Whole30 friendly, gluten-free, and dairy-free, and pescatarian friendly!
Roasted Sweet Potatoes
Makes 2-3 Servings
Why haven’t I thought of this before?! I always made baked sweet potatoes (which I find repulsive at best and usually choke down), frozen sweet potato fries (which tend to come out soggy), or candied sweet potatoes (think Thanksgiving and TONS of butter which I can no longer eat). My best friend was telling me how she loves to roast veggies and I thought, why don’t I do that? Sure, it takes a lot longer than nuking a baker in the microwave for 7 minutes, but the outcome is SO MUCH better! Plus it’s only 3 ingredients. Yes, I said that. 3 ingredients!
What you need:
2 sweet potatoes, washed, scrubbed, cut into 1-inch cubes
3-4 TBS Coconut Oil
Low-Sodium Salt, Sea Salt, or whatever salt you prefer
What you do:
Preheat the oven to 425 degrees. Put the coconut oil in a glass baking dish (I used a smaller rectangular one, but I’m sure you can use anything you have on hand). If the oil is solid, place the baking dish in the oven for 3-5 minutes until oil is melted. Take it out and toss the sweet potatoes in the oil, making sure to evenly coat them. Sprinkle with salt and roast in the oven for 40 minutes. About halfway through give the potatoes a stir. They are done when the fork easily pierces through the potato. Trust me, they don’t need anything else!
Sautéed Green Beans
Makes 2-3 Servings
If you are anything like me, I get in vegetable ruts making the same thing over and over again (usually steamed broccoli or some type of yellow squash or zucchini). The fresh green beans looked promising, so I picked up 1/2 pound and brought them home. Again 4 ingredients, low maintenance, just how I like it!
What you need:
1/2 pound fresh green beans, trimmed
1 TBS coconut oil
Salt & Onion powder
What you do:
Heat up the oil in a medium sauce pan. Add green beans and season with salt and onion powder to taste. Cook until desired tenderness (some like it crunchy and some like it mushy). DONE! Super easy!
Sautéed Jumbo Sea Scallops
Makes 2 Servings
As I mentioned earlier, I love scallops but I never made them at home. I didn’t think I was skilled enough to make them or that I would over cook them. But after eating at Seasons 52 and a couple other places that keep things healthy and simple, I thought I can do that. And if I can do it, you can do it. The key is simplicity. A lot of times recipes have you adding all sorts of weird, exotic, and usually expensive ingredients that you will only use for that one recipe. Not this. Everything you need (other than the scallops) are probably already in your pantry.
What you need:
1 pound Jumbo Sea Scallops, not frozen
TBS Extra Virgin Olive Oil
Salt & Pepper
What you do:
In a large saucepan heat up the oil on medium-high heat (not too high). Gently place the scallops around the pan so they are not crowded and it allows for even cooking time. While they are cooking, sprinkle them with salt and pepper. Cook for roughly 5 minutes, until the bottoms are a nice seared golden brown. If your scallops are browning before cooking, turn your heat down to medium. Flip your scallops over and season the other side of them. Cook the second side for another 5-6 minutes to get a nice golden brown top to your scallops.
Once your scallops are done, plate and serve warm. Delicious!
A good friend of mine posted a picture of her breakfast frittata on Facebook last night. She said it was her breakfast for the week. Immediately I was inspired to make a frittata that was gluten-free and dairy-free to fit my dietary/nutritional needs. It was surprisingly easy and quite delicious too! I’m sure you could make this into 8 small servings but since I made it with egg beaters (you could use egg whites too), I went ahead and cut 4 large servings instead. This will keep me covered until Thursday morning, but at 20 minutes total prep and cook time, it’s no problem to whip up another one midweek. The great thing about this recipe is that you can use whatever meat and veggies you have on hand. I used bacon (who doesn’t love bacon?). But you could easily use leftover taco meat, ground turkey, sausage, etc. Whatever leftover meat you choose, just be sure to use 1 cup of it. Also – I used zucchini for this recipe but you could easily use whatever leftover veggies you had from the night before or whatever you have lying in the fridge/freezer. Broccoli, squash, bell peppers & onions, mushrooms, etc. all make good substitutions for this recipe.
1 TBSP Coconut Oil
4 strips of cooked bacon, chopped
1 zucchini, sliced and cut into bit-sized pieces
1 1/4 cup egg beaters
2 TBSP Unsweetened Almond Milk
Salt & Pepper
- Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
- Meanwhile, heat a cast iron skillet on medium high heat and add coconut oil. Once the oil is heated, add bacon and zucchini to the pan. Stir the meat and veggie mixture to evenly cook. At this point I sprinkled some onion powder on my meat and veggies for some extra flavor. Cook for roughly 3-5 minutes or until zucchini is almost cooked through.
- While that is cooking, beat together egg beaters and almond milk. Pour over the meat and veggies and cook until the bottom is firm. Again 3-5 minutes (mine was more like 5 minutes).
- Place the skillet in the oven and cook for an additional 10-15 minutes (mine was 15 minutes) or until your eggs are cooked through. Then turn the heat up to high broil and cook for 2 minutes until the top is lightly browned.
- Serve warm or cold. This recipe is great for make ahead breakfasts!
I’m not big on ice cream until summer hits. There is something about 90 degree heat and 60% humidity that sends the ice cream craving my way. Being new to the dairy-free and gluten-free world, I wasn’t sure of my options other than your obvious snow cone, Italian Ice, and frozen fruit bar desserts. Well those are fine and dandy but they really don’t hit the spot when you are craving ice cream. I even went to a frozen yogurt shop and had their sorbet. It still didn’t cut it. Luckily my local Kroger has an organic/food allergy aisle, so I decided to see what they had to offer.
My first major find were these almond dream bars. They are gluten-free, dairy-free, and vegan friendly. I wasn’t sure at first because how can chocolate be vegan, but I decided to have an open mind. I’m so glad that I did. These are delicious! The chocolate coating tastes like normal chocolate and the ice cream is rich and velvety and so smooth. You really feel like you are eating a real ice cream bar made from milk. The only downside is that they cost roughly $5.00 a box and you only get 3 bars.
My next find was this So Delicious Coconut Milk ice cream. I’m not a big fan of coconut but I am a sucker for all things mango. This definitely has the texture of ice cream with a tropical twist. You definitely can taste the mango but there is a tiny hint of coconut in the background. The coconut isn’t overpowering the flavor of the ice cream which I was worried about. With 240 calories per serving (1/2 cup), you don’t want to overindulge which can be easy to do. You’ll want to scoop it out into a dish otherwise you’ll end up eating it all in 3 days like I did. Downside? It costs $6.14 for a pint… Yowza!
I had high hopes for this flavor of So Delicious. I love green tea ice cream and there is no better way to complete a sushi dinner than with a scoop of green tea ice cream (unless you have some mochi laying around). I opened the container and put a huge spoonful in my mouth… What did I taste? Coconut with a hint of green tea. Unfortunately for this flavor, the green tea isn’t strong enough to stand on its own like the mango so the coconut milk takes center stage instead of the green tea. The texture is still creamy and smooth but the flavor is just all wrong. I guess that’s why it was on closeout for $3.14.