Lately, I’ve been embarking on a major overhaul of the food I eat on a daily basis. This has encouraged me to cook at home more often with fresh produce, meats, and whole foods. It’s been a great way to find new healthy recipes and both Joe and I agree that we’ve enjoyed all the dishes we’ve tried.
The main motivation for cleaning up my diet is primarily to clean up my body, reset, and feel optimally-fueled prior to Chicago Marathon on October 13th. On top of trying all these new recipes and new way of fueling, I’m challenging myself to
eliminate reduce the dessert and alcohol intake. Alcohol? No problem. But, dessert on the other hand is a challenge for me. I’ve got a major sweet tooth.
In this blog post, I’m recapping some of the recipes that I’ve tried and enjoyed. I hope that you get the chance to try them out and expand your cooking horizons!
Roasted Spaghetti Squash
Have you ever tried spaghetti squash? It truly is an easy, healthy alternative to the regular ol’ pasta. For anyone trying to limit simple carbs, try roasting a spaghetti squash and using the squash in any pasta dish. Skinnytaste.com is one of my favorite go-to food blogs and Gina has a basic post on how to bake spaghetti squash here.
Essentially, follow the below steps:
- Cut the spaghetti squash in half (carefully! don’t cut any fingers off)
- Scoop out the inner seeds and discard
- Sprinkle each open-faced half with salt and pepper (optional: lightly drizzle with EVOO)
- Bake at 350° for 1 hour or until fork tender
- Let cool and then fork the strands from each half – they’ll become the texture of little spaghetti noodles
Quick Marinara Sauce
To go along with the spaghetti squash, try the Skinnytaste Quick Marinara Sauce, my quick go-to recipe for a yummy pasta sauce. Follow the directions on the recipe (I omitted the bay leaf), and for additional protein, cook 1-lb of lean ground turkey breast before adding the sauce ingredients to it.
Voila! Simple, healthy, and filling meal.
Easy Microwaved Egg “Scramble”
Do you ever have mornings in which you’re rushing around getting ready for work? BUT, you still want a healthy filling breakfast? As the most important meal of the day, I’ve figured out a few quick and easy go-to recipes.
Here’s the base process for quick microwaved eggs:
- Spray a microwave-safe container (preferably small) with some nonstick spray
- Crack a whole egg + 2 egg whites (or any combo that you prefer) and quickly fork-whisk
- Add salt and pepper for taste (optional: garlic powder, red pepper flakes, any spices that you enjoy)
- Cover with the container lid, leaving the top loose, or cover with saran wrap
- Microwave 45 seconds on high, open the microwave door so the egg doesn’t explode from the pressure, continue microwaving in increments of 10 seconds until the egg is done.
Optional: before microwaving, add some veggie or protein goodness with the addition of a 1/2 cup of spinach or mixed greens, and a couple of healthy breakfast sausage links broken apart. Serve with sliced fruit like a pear or apple
Mashed Cauliflower and Homemade Turkey Patties
For those of you whom are skeptical of cauliflower — try it!!! Even my husband, who hugely disliked cauliflower, enjoyed the mashed cauliflower that I made.
Mashed cauliflower has lately been one of my favorite side dishes to make. It’s very healthy and very simple – both wins in my book. Here’s how to make mashed cauliflower:
- Trim and cut cauliflower florets from one head of cauliflower
- Fill a pot with 1″-2″ of water, insert a steamer such as this, fill the pot with the florets, turn the stove medium-high.
- Steam the cauliflower for 10-15 minutes or until very fork tender.
- Drain the cauliflower and place into a large food processor.
- Add 1/4 cup of low sodium chicken or vegetable broth (optional: add a swig of unsweetened almond milk)
- Add 1 tablespoon of minced garlic, more or less based on preference
- Add a dash of red pepper flakes, salt and pepper, and any other desired spices
- Puree the mixture in the food processor until creamy consistency
For the turkey patties, I literally just threw into a bowl 1-lb of lean ground turkey breast, chopped mini sweet peppers, 1/2 chopped onion, a handful of chopped herbs like basil, salt and pepper, garlic powder, red pepper flakes, etc. Mixed up by hand and formed into six even patties. Cooked on each side until done. Top with Sriracha (optional). I was very surprised by how well they turned out!
One Saturday morning, recently, I decided to make a quick scramble for breakfast after a run. Eggs always sound good to me and I’ll usually have one whole egg mixed with a couple of egg whites. This time around, I added some chopped mini sweet bell peppers, spinach, and topped with sliced avocado, sea salt and pepper, and Tapatio. This is a sure way to start they day off with good protein and veggies in the tummy.
Bacon Brussels Sprouts
I have to admit that brussels sprouts is one of my favorite vegetables. I love it steamed, sauteed, roasted, etc. You can quickly enhance brussels sprouts by sauteing it with bacon, of course. Just dice up a couple slices of bacon and add to sauteed minced garlic and chopped onion in EVOO. After the bacon is crispy, add the halved brussels sprouts and a dash of chicken or vegetable broth until the sprouts are cooked through tender.
Grilled Garlic Dijon Herb Salmon
Serve the bacon brussels sprouts with Skinnytaste Grilled Garlic Dijon Herb Salmon and mashed cauliflower. See, I told you that I’ve been loving the mashed cauli lately.
Thai Coconut Curry Shrimp
Another winning recipe that I tried was from Skinnytaste again (what a surprise!) – Thai Coconut Curry Shrimp with a side of my mashed cauliflower.
Zoodles (aka Zucchini Noodles)
I’ve been so adventurous lately with recipes and what better way to incorporate veggies into the day than with something fun like Zoodles!? They’re really just zucchini noodles but yet another good alternative to the pasta. My husband exclaimed that he loved it. What a surprise – for someone who does NOT like zucchini, cucumber, squash, etc., this was a win.
I read about Zoodles technique on Nom Nom Paleo’s site. She has a good tutorial here. I found a great recipe on Skinnytaste here.
Start with some washed zucchini:
Use a tool like a julienne peeler (I got this one from Amazon recently) or spiralizer tool to create noodles from the zucchini.
I ended up making a simple dinner just eyeballing steps:
- Wash four zucchini and slice into thin Zoodles with a julienne peeler
- In a large pan sauté a tablespoon of minced garlic, 1/2 chopped onion, and three diced Trader Joe’s spicy jalepeno chicken sausage in a couple teaspoons of EVOO
- Once cooked through, add the Zoodles to the pan and sauté for 5 minutes on med-high heat
- In a separate saucepan heat up marinara sauce of choice and serve on Zoodles (refer to the Simple Marinara Sauce from earlier in the blog post)
Banana “Ice Cream”
There’s a very easy, healthy way to enjoy ice cream. When your bananas get over-ripe, peel them and throw them into the freezer in a gallon bag. Once you’re ready for some delicious ice cream, break out the food processor and puree the frozen bananas until they become ice cream-like consistency. An alternative to the food processor would be the Yonanas machine.
Top with frozen berries and cinnamon for a sweet, healthy treat.
Hmm…. why is it that I forget where it is I found the recipe for these healthy pumpkin muffins made with almond flour? Hmm. If I end up remembering, I’ll update this blog post. They were fine – not the best, just okay.
Taco night in our household is a favorite. No real recipe here – just throw together some lean ground turkey breast with taco seasoning.
These are some of my favorite taco toppings. Note the Cafe Yumm Sauce. 🙂
Microwaved Mug Cake (part 1)
With the healthy kick lately and lack of eating desserts, I was craving a treat one night and decided to try out my first ever microwaved mug cake.
For my first mug cake attempt, I consulted several blogs and decided to throw together the following:
- Combine 1 mashed banana with 1 egg or three tablespoons of egg white (I tried the latter)
- Add 1 tablespoon of mini chocolate chips, 1/4 teaspoon of baking soda, and a small spoonful of almond butter or PB to the banana-egg mixture.
- Mix well and microwave for 1.5-2 minutes.
Homemade Cafe Yumm Bowls
You know that I’m obsessed with making my own Yumm Bowls at home. Check out one of my old blog posts from 2012 on How To: Make a Delish Homemade Yumm Bowl.
Microwaved Mug Cake (part 2)
Another easy 1-minute mug cake modified from a recipe here. I just threw together the following, mixed, and microwaved for 1-minute:
- 1 tablespoon Dutch cocoa powder
- 3 tablespoons of flour (all-purpose, almond, rice, any of those should work)
- 1 dash of sea salt
- 1/4 teaspoon of baking powder
- 1/8 teaspoon of baking soda
- 2 teaspoon of coconut oil OR couple tablespoon of unsweetened applesauce
- 3 tablespoons of almond milk
- 1 teaspoon of vanilla extract
- optional: tablespoon of chocolate chips
Healthy Banana Bread – with Chocolate Chips or Walnut Bits
I was in a total baking mood the other nice. With tons of overripe bananas staring at me, I decided to find a banana bread recipe that tasted good but also erred on the side of a health food. After reading through multiple recipes, I decided to go with Plan to Eat’s Gluten-Free, Dairy-Free, Sugar-Free Oat Flour Banana Bread. What a mouthful!
Follow the instructions as listed on the recipe but here are the modifications that I made:
2/3 cup melted coconut oil– reduce this to 2.5 tablespoons of coconut oil
- Add 1/4 cup of applesauce or a little less than a single-serve applesauce
1 teaspoon sea salt– reduce to 1/2 teaspoon of sea salt 1 cup chopped walnuts or almonds– as a last step, divide the batter into two loaf pans – add 1/2 cup chopped walnuts to one loaf and combine; add 1/2 cup of mini chocolate chips to the other loaf and combine
- Note: the recipe is dairy-free but not vegan – for a vegan version, replace the 2 eggs with flax seed eggs (to make 1 flax egg, combine 1 tablespoon of flax seed with 3 tablespoons of warm water)
With the modifications above, you get a subtly sweet banana bread with walnuts and you get a desserty version of banana bread with the inclusion of mini chocolate chips.
Try this. 🙂
Last but not least, I tried making Oh She Glow’s 15 Minute Creamy Avocado Pasta. My oh my, it was so damn good! Joe, who’s not a vegetarian, raved about this dinner last evening.
I omitted the fresh basil for the sauce since I didn’t have any on hand and I used quinoa pasta (Ancient Harvest brand) instead of spaghetti — any pasta would be fine, though. I also added a sprinkle of raw sunflower seeds to the dish before serving.
Hope that this post has introduced you to some new recipes, new foods, and inspiration to cook!
Now, don’t get me wrong. I am still in love with non-healthy foods, too. Sometimes a girl just has to kick back, enjoy some ice cream, or a nice, meaty steak from the Metropolitan Grill – best steak in Seattle.
Or some amazing Caribbean-Trinidadian food from Pam’s Kitchen.
Some of the best fries I’ve ever had from Capitol Cider.
With a side of good friends!
Love all these recipes and have made some myself…love Skinnytaste and Oh She Glows! So glad you gave a shout out to Capitol Cider fries…they are literally the best I’ve ever had and I’ve had ALOT of French fries in my days 🙂
Ohhhh, yes. We should setup a dinner date for cider and fries there soon!
And would love that recipe you were talking about for the healthy bars??
Thanks for the recipes — I saw your photos on Instagram and was curious how you made them! Good luck in Chicago!
Thanks, Megan! So glad you found the recipes. Let me know if you try any of them!
These all sound awesome! Thanks Sarah. I love healthy recipes that aren’t completely void of creativity/flavor. And in response to Lauren’s comment above…can I invite myself? I love a fry party 🙂
Um. Yes. Fry party as soon as I get back from Chicago! I could use some cider or beer, the best fries ever…. and a burger!?
Loving finding and trying out new healthy recipes that taste just as good as the indulgent stuff.