Almost Thanksgiving! Plus last-minute side-dish ideas

Thanksgiving is only a few days away and I still have to figure out what I will be bringing to family dinner. Homemade bread (the no-knead, no-fail kind) has been requested, but I also need to figure out a side dish and maybe a dessert.

If we weren’t already having several potato dishes, I would definitely make our favorite side dish: Sweet potato, brussel sprouts, and bacon. It is really easy to make and all the flavors taste great. There is a nice balance of sweet and salty and the brussel sprouts pair nicely with both the sweet potatoes and bacon.

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I have also compiled a list of 15 healthified traditional Thanksgiving sides, which you can find HERE.

I’m looking forward to enjoying great food and company and kick-off the start of the holiday season! This year I am also even more Thankful for the blessings in my life; my son, my husband, our home, and my new job working at an elementary school library 🙂

What are you making this week? What are you thankful for this year?

 

You may also enjoy:

recipes and meal plans

 

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Pesto, spinach, and goat cheese stuffed chicken and garlic asparagus recipe

I am working on growing an herb garden in our new house, but birds keep eating my herb sprouts. I put out a bird feeder, so hopefully that will deter them. Along with fresh cilantro and chives, I am really looking forward to fresh basil! I love making pesto and I enjoy eating it even more. This week I was craving some pesto goodness so I decided to pick some up and use it for a stuffed chicken recipe (and maybe a quiche recipe too).

I haven’t made stuffed chicken in a while, and it did not disappoint! This pesto and cheese and spinach stuffed chicken is a yummy and rich meal. Whoever said you can’t eat delicious food while still eating healthy doesn’t know what they are talking about! My husband was happy that it was grain-free and had goat cheese, and I was happy merely because it had pesto.  It may seem like too much work, but it’s all in the preparation. After you put it together, you can stick it in the oven and forget about it for a while!

I paired the chicken with a garlic asparagus side, recipe below as well.
stuffed chicken

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Grain-free, junk-free, two-week meal plan with grocery list Feb 25- March 10th

Week 3 and 4 of junk-free eating and my mom started the Whole 30 program last week and quit smoking, too! This household has really been working hard to eat healthy and exercise; as I type this, I am delightfully sore from working out.

I bought a 3 pound bag of almonds and finally made almond butter in the food processor. SO. EASY. Plus it was 1/3 of the cost! I will also use the almond for snacking and making almond flour. I bought a bag of pistachios (because I LOVE pistachios) and oranges for snacks.

February 25th-March 3rd

Monday:
Breakfast: Scrambled eggs and bacon
Lunch: Protein shake with coconut and almond milk and almond butter or leftovers
Dinner: Roasted chicken and steamed broccoli

Tuesday:
Breakfast: Scrambled eggs and bacon
Lunch: Protein Shake with coconut and almond milk, almond butter, half a banana or leftovers
Dinner: Fajita meat salad with baby spinach, lime juice, and salsa

Wednesday:
Breakfast:  Eggs and Bacon and an orange
Lunch: El Pollo chicken and protein shake with almond milk or leftovers
Dinner: Paleo pizzas, sauteed asparagus and baby spinach

Thursday:
Breakfast: Scrambled eggs and bacon
Lunch: Leftover paleo pizzas and salad greens
Dinner:(dinner at my dads) – bunless burgers

Friday:
Breakfast: Eggs
Lunch: Protein Shake with coconut and almond milk, almond butter, half a banana
Dinner: Salad with dressing, cheese, salsa, beans

Saturday:
Breakfast: Chicken-fried steak (grain-free) and fried eggs
Lunch: Protein Shake
Dinner: Ham, green-beans, sweet-potato fries

Sunday:
Breakfast: Skipped breakfast
Lunch: with in-laws – chicken enchiladas, salad greens
Dinner: BBQ chicken and brussel sprouts (also made paleo cookies)

March 4-10

Monday:
Breakfast: Scrambled eggs and bacon
Lunch: Leftover chicken and vegetables
Dinner: Taco Salad

Tuesday:
Breakfast: Scrambled eggs and bacon
Lunch: protein shake
Dinner: Spicy BBQ chicken, asparagus

Wednesday:
Breakfast: Eggs and bacon
Lunch: leftover chicken and salad
Dinner: pork loin in crock-pot, green beans

Thursday:
Breakfast: Scrambled eggs and bacon
Lunch: pork-loin and salad
Dinner: (Take-out at my dad’s house) chile verde and vegetables

Friday:
Breakfast: eggs with salsa verde
Lunch: Protein Shake with coconut and almond milk, almond butter, half an avocado
Dinner: Avocado tuna cakes with dipping sauce and salad greens

Saturday:
Breakfast: Scrambled eggs and bacon
Lunch: protein shake
Dinner: Out for a birthday party

Sunday:
Breakfast: protein shake
Lunch: (at in-laws) a Portuguese pork dish with green beans and yams
Dinner: Roasted chicken from Costco

2 week food list and cost breakdown:

*This is incomplete, but I figured I should post it now, and fill in the blanks later*

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Easy Paleo treats and healthier sweets

We usually have a ton of candy around during the holidays, but all that has changed! My husband and I are really working to keeping our foods clean and healthy and not keeping junk around. Not to say that we can’t have a treat, but I would rather splurge on something truly delicious than eat 12 crappy heart-shaped candies.

My husband also has no desire to be tempted with store-bought candy that has an ingredient list long and hard to pronounce. So this year I am not loading up his gift basket with high-fructose corn syrup; I’m making my own sweets!

Most Paleo (and GAPS, Primal, and other healthier grain-free/sugar-free options) usually contain the following ingredients: coconut, coconut oil, coconut butter, dark chocolate, cocoa, honey or pure maple syrup, almond flour, almond butter, and coconut flour. There are a lot of healthier options out there that taste just as good.

Here are a few simple treats you can make for your sweet heart or yourself!

mounds truffles

Homemade Mounds (or Almond Joy) from Detoxinista: I’ve made these before and they taste like the real thing! I had to use a bit more coconut oil then the recipe called for, but maybe my coconut was stale. I might also try and put the filling in cute molds before freezing and coating in chocolate.

fudge

Paleo Fudge from Practical Paleo: I have a friend who loves this stuff, and it is super easy to make!

Paleo-Chocolate-Cupcakes-5875

Paleo Chocolate Cupacakes from Elana’s Pantry: And chocolate frosting! I want to make these!

coconut klondite bites

Coconut Klondike Bites from PaleOMG: I really need to get some coconut butter so I can try these out. I love mint.

white fudge

Coconut Orange White Fudge from The Nourishing Gourmet: This looks so good. Like I said, I really need some coconut butter.

Chocolate-Covered-Cookie-Dough-Bites

Chocolate Covered Cookie Dough Bites from The Unrefined Kitchen – These seem easy to make and a nice chewy treat.

reeses hearts

Almost Reeses’ Candy from Whole New Mom: My husband loves Reeses, so I really want to try these.

Don’t forget about chocolate covered strawberries! Melt some dark chocolate with a little coconut oil and dip the berries, drizzle the chocolate on top, or look for other creative ways. Chocolate fondue and mixed berries is a fun dessert, too!

 

You can find more Paleo treats on my Pinterest Board “Healthified Sweets”

board

This week’s meal plan (2/4-2/8)

It was a sad day yesterday in our house after the Niners lost the Super Bowl. So close, yet so far away. You know what was also so close? The number on my scale being lower. But then I splurged a little too much at our Super Bowl party. Oh well, back on the wagon today!

I’m working out and eating healthy and looking forward to pushing myself to be healthier and more fit (and growing a butt would be awesome sauce, too). I’m trying to work up the courage to post my progress so that I will be challenged and accountable! Maybe soon.

We ordered grass-fed ground beef and fajita meat from a local company and subscribed to eggs from grass-fed chickens. We bought chicken from a family member that works for a chicken company and I bought pork ribs on sale. I stocked up on lots of fruit this week to make protein smoothies.

I really need to learn to like fish. Maybe next week I will add in some sea food. Although, Lent is coming up and I am sure we will be adding more sea food at that time.

meal plan

Need more dinner ideas and meal plans? Click HERE for grain-free and gluten-free, budget-friendly, and even Whole30 meal plans and recipes.

What’s on this week’s meal plan for you?

This week’s meal plan (1/28-2/1)

I think I could probably have taco night at least 3 times a week. That, and just eat green beans or potatoes to accompany my protein source. Pretty boring (but delicious). My husband could actually eat the same 3 things every week, but I feel like we should have some diversity in our meal planning. He also likes to eat a fairly strict primal diet that is grain-free and almost always without white potatoes. I like to eat that way too, so at least he keeps me honest!

Next month I am going to do something similar to the Grocery Savings Challenge, but post totals by the month. We are also ordering our eggs and most of our meat from local sources that pasture-raise their animals, so it might be interesting how much we will spend choosing quality of cost.

We have been getting some lovely weather here; the wind is a bit chilly, but a sunny 50-60 degree day is still nice! We even used the grill last night!

This week’s meal plan:

  • Monday: Grilled steaks (grass-fed! They were a Christmas gift), with baked sweet potatoes and steamed brussel sprouts with parsley butter (Strauss butter, you are amazing)
  • Tuesday: Macadamia crusted chicken breast, steamed green beans, mixed green salad
  • Wednesday: Pork chops with broccoli, cauliflower, and carrot stir-fry
  • Thursday: Italian meatloaf, mixed greens, roasted potatoes and carrots
  • Friday: BBQ chicken, 30-second brussel sprouts, avocado

Lunch: Leftovers or almond-butter smoothies

Breakfasts: Eggs and bacon or almond-butter smoothies

I’m in the middle of Spring cleaning and a teething baby, but I plan on posting recipes, Valentine’s Day ideas, and a glimpse at our bathroom remodel project coming up!

Anyone try a new recipe this week?

My new favorite: Chicken in tomato and basil cream sauce

We have been in kind of a food slump lately; nothing seems to sound very good and we needed a bit more variety. I needed to eat something new and different! I also didn’t want to be prepping and cooking food all evening when I want and need to spend more time with my baby and husband. I looked around on Pinterest (which makes me mostly just want to bake) and was inspired by a photo on The Big Oven. I wasn’t a fan of all the ingredients so I came up with my own version and used tomatoes instead of pimentos and left out a few ingredients. The result? DELICIOUSNESS. I’m making this chicken again, soon!

Ingredients:

  • Boneless, skinless chicken breasts (we used 5)
  • Fat of your choice for cooking chicken
  • 2 tsp Italian Seasoning, or to taste
  • 2 tsp garlic powder, or to taste
  • 2 cup heavy whipping cream
  • 1 can diced tomatoes (I used the kind with oregano and other herbs) or 1-2 cups diced fresh tomatoes
  • 1/3-1/2 cup fresh basil, diced
  • 1/2 cup grated Parmesan or asiago cheese

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A Family Recipe to Feed a Crowd

I’m going to let you in on a secret recipe today; a recipe from my husband’s Portuguese family. Having a hard time figuring out what dish to make or bring to your next event? Look no further; bring Portuguese Beans!

A big pot of these flavorful beans are easy to make and a big favorite around here. We make them for family gatherings, BBQ’s, and parties. If by chance you have any leftovers, they taste even better the next day for lunch or with some runny eggs for breakfast.

I like this recipe because it is very flavorful and has only a few ingredients. These beans go great with any meal, whether it be hamburgers and hotdogs, steak, chicken or eggs! I like to use beer in the recipe, but if you want to have a gluten-free pot, it is easy to substitute the beer for chicken broth and it will be just as tasty!

I’ve fed about 20 people with this recipe, when it is a side-dish. Technically it’s about 26 servings of beans or so. I cook it in my regular large sauce pot. It’s a pretty cheap dish as well. A huge can of beans costs about $5, bacon $2-5, tomato sauce $2-3, and everything else less than $1. So you can feed over 20 people for about $10.

Portuguese Beans for a Group:
Ingredients:
1 12oz pack of bacon or 8-10 slices of the thick cut kind, cut into small pieces
1 medium onion, diced
3 cloves garlic, minced
2 15oz cans of tomato sauce
1 bottle of beer
OR
2 cups chicken broth
1 huge can of pinto beans, rinsed (the #10 can size with 26 or so servings)

Directions:
In a large pot, crisp the diced bacon
Remove bacon from pot with slotted spoon and set aside
In bacon grease, cook onion and garlic until translucent
Add the tomato sauce, beer or broth, and the bacon into the pot
Simmer for 10 minutes
Add rinsed pinto beans and simmer for about 15-30 minutes
Add more liquid if necessary (keep about an inch or two of liquid above beans)

Enjoy!

Portuguese Beans

A bad picture of the beans; I always forget to take a picture because I’m too busy eating them and they are gone by the time I remember!

Experimental Cooking: Protein Packed Breakfast Cookies

Yesterday morning I spent a couple hours scouring the internet on an empty stomach, looking for a breakfast cookie that was actually healthy and didn’t require a ton of specialty ingredients. I didn’t consider 1/4 cup or more of sugar to be considered healthy and I was amazed when people said the cookie was high in protein when they had less than 2 grams per serving.

So I finally pried myself off the couch and went to work in the kitchen, challenging myself to make a healthier breakfast cookie. I concocted a cookie batter from various ingredients in my cupboard and hoped for the best!

The batter seemed a bit soft, but I put them in the oven anyway. After about 11 minutes, I was pleasantly surprised that they had maintained their shape.

They were fluffy in the center and slightly crispy on the edges (which is just how I like my cookies). The flavor was quite light and enjoyable. Next time I would probably not use the banana protein powder though, and keep it to vanilla (or maybe chocolate).  The peanut butter did not come through, so next time I’m going to try to add more vanilla and cinnamon to taste like a regular oatmeal cookie, or perhaps replace some of the Greek yogurt with more peanut butter. I liked the cookies with the chocolate chips the best (who wouldn’t). The next day these cookies still had great texture and they weren’t overly soft (nor did they harden) like some cookies can get when you use fruit puree.

I will label this recipe as a success and will make again – with less than 3 grams of sugar and 11 grams of protein for 2 cookies, these might come in handy as a quick snack for when the baby gets here (they say oats helps with milk production, right?)

Protein Breakfast Cookies Recipe

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Chili-lime chicken with mango and avocado salsa

Today’s dinner was one of my favorites: thin chicken breasts seasoned with chili, lime, and other spices, then grilled and served with a mango and avocado salsa. It really hit the spot!

I could also eat the salsa by itself. I had to stop eating it by the spoonful or else there wouldn’t be enough for dinner! The salsa lasted us about 3 servings, but it could be more if I didn’t eat half of it just myself. It probably makes about 1 cup of salsa.

Chili-lime chicken with mango and avocado salsa recipe

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