Chorizo Ragu over Spaghetti Squash

Weeknight dinners can be a chore when you’re in a time-crunch, especially if you’re hungry and ready to eat. While the idea of meal planning is fantastic and I try to schedule out meals for the work-week, yet sometimes I “live on the edge”….or that’s what I tell myself when I’m forced to wing it and try to whip up something different with ingredients I have on hand.

Thus, this chorizo ragu was born. Quick, simple and tasty…yay for spontaneous dinners! Plus, add some bonus points since you can make this ahead; the leftovers are deeeelicious! If you prefer to prep meals on the weekend to get a jumpstart to your busy week, this dish might be on your next to-make list. If you want a filling grain-free meal packed with veggies and nutrition, give this one a go as well :)

Slightly spicy and loaded with smoky flavor from the cumin and paprika, this Mexican-inspired ragu packed with protein, fiber, veggies to keep you full AND satisfied. The squeeze of fresh lime really makes the spices and flavors pop and brightens the dish so I’d advise not the leave that out :)

If you don’t have spaghetti squash, serve this ragu over fresh greens for a spin on a warm taco salad or even your favorite cooked grain (like quinoa or brown rice) for a burrito bowl type meal. I had a little bit of the ragu leftover and served it over a baked sweet potato for lunch…YUM. Yep, I’ll be doing that again soon!

Chorizo Ragu over Spaghetti Squash
Gluten-free, Grain-free, Paleo-friendly, Vegetarian/Vegan option, Nut-free, Soy-free, Dairy-free

Ingredients

1 medium spaghetti squash, halved and deseeded
2/3 lb gluten free chorizo (can use chicken chorizo or vegetarian chorizo)
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 1/2 tsp ground cumin
1/2 tsp smoked paprika
1 jalapeno, deseeded and deveined, minced OR several shakes of ground cayenne pepper (omit if you don’t want added heat)
1/2 small onion, sliced or chopped (about 2/3 cup)
1 bell pepper, diced (red, yellow or orange)
2 Roma tomatoes, diced
2 cups cooked black or pinto beans
2-4 cups of spinach or swiss chard, collards or kale, de-stemmed, deveined and chopped
1/4 cup fresh cilantro, chopped
squeeze of fresh lime
sea salt and pepper to taste

Garnish/serving ideas
shredded cheddar or monterrey jack cheese, optional (omit for vegan and/or dairy free)

fresh cilantro for serving, optional

Directions

1. Preheat oven to 400F. Lightly drizzle olive oil over squash and season with salt and pepper. Place squash cut side down onto a baking sheet lined with parchment paper and bake until tender, roughly 30-35 minutes based on size. Once cooked, let cool slightly then scrape with a fork to create strands and set aside for serving.

2. While squash cooks, prepare the “ragu”. Heat a medium skillet over medium heat and add chorizo and onion. If using a really lean chorizo or a vegetarian substitute, saute in 1 Tbsp of oil. Saute until cooked through and no longer pink and lightly browned.

3. Add garlic, cumin, paprika and jalapeno or red pepper (if using) and cook until fragrant, about 30 seconds to one minute.

4. Add bell pepper, tomato and beans and cook for 3-4 minutes. Toss in spinach/greens and cook another minute or two until wilted.

5. Add cilantro the the skillet along with fresh squeezed lime juice. Season to taste with salt and pepper.

6. Serve ragu over cooked spaghetti squash. Sprinkle with grated cheese, diced avocado and/or additional cilantro if desired and enjoy!

Serves 4

Timesaver: You can cook the spaghetti squash a couple of days ahead or the night before to speed up prep time. Just reheat in the oven or in the skillet.

April 24, 2015 at 12:50 pm Leave a comment

Creamy “Zoodles” with Chicken and Broccoli

I purchased a Spiralizer a year ago, and wow has that little tool come in handy! Apple “noodles”, super-quick sweet potato fries and spiralized zucchini are just a few of my favorites. For some, zucchini noodles and spiralized ingredients might be old news but if this concept is new, I encourage you to give them a go. Plus, it’s fun…and who couldn’t use some extra fun?!

I continue to be amazed at the versatility of zucchini: what an incredible veggie. You can use zucchini noodles aka “zoodles” as a grain-free or light pasta replacement OR you can bulk up your pasta dishes so you can have half zoodles and half noodles…that way you can load up on veggies and still have your pasta without a carb-induced coma :) I’ve pureed zucchini for a bean-free hummus, used grated zucchini in a sweet quick bread and added it to smoothies to thicken and add some veg without affecting flavor.

avocado chicken broccoli zoodles 1

Since Spring has sprung, lighter dishes have been on the menu. This dish is quick, crazy easy and packed with fresh and bright flavor! Plus, you can make it vegan by swapping out the chicken for an extra roasted veggie (think roasted marinated portabella mushrooms or roasted asparagus..mmmm). The creamy avocado sauce adds a punch of flavor from the fresh basil, garlic and bright lime or lemon juice, and the roasted broccoli lends a nutty flavor to this meal. This dish is packed with protein, healthy fats, fiber and nutrition and can be served as a power lunch or dinner…and if you manage to have leftovers, those are tasty right from the fridge :) avocado chicken broccoli zoodles 2

Creamy Zoodles with Chicken and Broccoli
Gluten-free, Grain-free, Egg-free, Dairy-free, Vegan Option, Vegetarian Option, Soy-free, Paleo-friendly, Nut-free 

Ingredients

3 medium zucchini, spiralized
1 large or two small chicken breast, cooked & cubed* (For vegan/vegetarian option, use 2 cups sauteed mushrooms and/or roasted asparagus)
1 head of broccoli, cut into small florets
2 small avocado 1 large avocado, pit removed and rough diced (will be pureed)
handful of fresh basil, chopped (roughly 1/2 cup) or cilantro
2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil, divided
1 garlic clove, minced
2 limes, juiced or 1 lemon, juiced (roughly 2 Tbsp or to taste)
1/2 tsp sea salt or to taste
freshly ground black pepper
1-2 Tbsp water or as needed

Optional garnish/serving ideas
hemp seed or pinenuts or slivered almonds (if adding nuts, will not be nut-free)
fresh basil, chiffonade
slices of fresh lemon or lime

Directions

1. Preheat oven to 375 F. Line a baking sheet with parchment or grease with olive oil. Add broccoli florets to the pan, drizzle with 1 Tbsp of olive oil and sprinkle with sea salt. Cook for approximately 10-12 minutes or until broccoli is tender and lightly browned.

2. While broccoli is cooking, prepare the avocado lime sauce. Add avocado, lime/lemon juice, basil, minced garlic, salt and 1 Tbsp olive oil and pureed until smooth. Add a couple tablespoons of water to thin out the sauce as needed.

3. If you prefer a less crunchy and softer zucchini noodle, either steam or saute the noodles for a couple minutes until your desired texture.

4. Add chicken, broccoli and zucchini noodles to a mixing bowl or pot. Pour/spoon the avocado sauce over the ingredients and toss to combine. Season to taste with additional salt and pepper and lime/lemon juice.

5. Divide into serving dishes and top with more basil, pinenuts/hemp seeds/almonds if desired and serve!

*I baked two small chicken breasts simply seasoned with lemon pepper, salt and olive oil at 350F for 20 minutes. I let them cool off and then cut into bite-size pieces. You could also use 2 cups shredded rotisserie chicken for a super quick lunch or dinner tossed with a little lemon.

**If you prefer to steam your broccoli, that’s ok too. I enjoy the depth of flavor from roasting them.

Serves approximately 3-4 people

avocado chicken broccoli zoodles bite

April 10, 2015 at 1:36 pm Leave a comment

Asian Noodle Bowls with Green-Tea Poached Salmon (SRC)

Spring is finally here in Montana! Bright and sunny, longer days propel me to get moving – both in the kitchen and outside. I am also craving lights dishes with lots of vegetables…and this noodle bowl is a great place to start. It’s still comforting for the cooler evenings but light enough for a veggie-packed dinner with hunger-smashing protein to boot. asian noodle bowls tea poached salmonI’ve always been fond of green tea but never thought of poaching salmon in a tea-infused broth…different AND delicious! The Asian-inspired dressing for this one-bowl meal was not only fresh, but a little nutty and infused with ginger and garlic…a definite personal favorite. The roasted veggies add depth to the dish while the mild-flavored salmon was a perfect compliment to the noodles and sauce. It’s a winner, and my how pretty it turned out with all the fun colors! asian noodle bowls tea poached salmon 2 This recipe was lightly adapted from Sarah and Tim’s tasty blog, Curious Cuisiniere for this month’s Secret Recipe Club assignment and I had a blast searching through tons of creative recipes full of fusion and culture. I love their description, “Take a journey back to your roots and bring wholesome cooking, inspired by your past, back into your home.”…and their recipes reflect just that. I was drawn in to a slew of dishes that are now on my Spring must-make list: Crockpot Coffee-Spiked Sloppy Joes, Sweet Potato Falafel with Tahini Slaw, and Layered Melon Granitas in a Jar to name a few. I ultimately chose their Asian Noodle Bowls with Tea-poached Salmon, not only was I intrigued by the fish preparation but I had a hankering for ginger and had some rainbow carrots that were calling my name. I made a few substitutions based on ingredients on hand; I increased the quantity of sauce by a third so I could drizzle a little on top of the veggies and salmon when plating and used 1 1/2 tsp of toasted sesame oil to increase the nutty flavor a tad. I also used gluten-free coconut aminos and rice noodles in lieu of soy sauce and ramen noodles to avoid an upset stomach. I cut the salmon into separate filets in order to cook them more easily and evenly in my saucepan. I didn’t have any parsley so I left that out, but I imagine cilantro would be a great addition too, but I can put cilantro on lots of things :) asian noodle bowls tea poached salmon1 Asian Noodle Bowls with Green-Tea Poached Salmon (lightly adapted from Curious Cuisiniere) Grain-free/Paleo option, Gluten-free, Dairy-free, Soy-free option, Nut-free, Egg-free, Sugar-free

Ingredients
The Dressing 2 Tbsp canola oil (or a combo of 1/2 Tbsp toasted sesame seed oil and 1 1/2 Tbsp olive oil) 3 Tbsp gluten free soy sauce, Braggs or tamari or coconut aminos (for soy free) 1 Tbsp tahini* 1 Tbsp honey 1 Tbsp lime juice 1 1/2 tsp freshly grated or minced ginger
The Veggies

4 medium carrots, sliced 1 lb broccoli, cut into bite-sized pieces 1 large onion, chopped 2 tsp garlic powder 1 tsp salt drizzle of olive oil

The Salmon 2 cups water
2 green tea bags
1 Tbsp black peppercorns
1 lb wild-caught salmon filets (I used 3 portions about 5-6 oz each)
The Noodles
 water 4 packages gluten-free ramen noodles, broken slightly (discard the spice packet) or 8 oz gluten free buckwheat or favorite thin pasta noodles, cooked according to package directions**
For Serving/Garnish
2 Tbsp green onions, thinly sliced 2 Tbsp sesame seeds 2 tsp parsley or cilantro (I left this out and added a squeeze of lime
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 425F.
  2. In a small bowl, whisk together oil, soy sauce/liquid aminos, tahini, honey, lime juice, and ginger. Set dressing aside.
  3. Toss carrots, broccoli, and onions with a drizzle of oil and the garlic powder and salt. Spread onto a greased and foil-lined baking sheet. . Roast vegetables at 425F for 15 minutes, until darkened, but still crisp. Remove from the oven and set aside.
  4. While the vegetables are roasting, in a medium saucepan, bring 2 cups of water to a boil with the tea bags and peppercorns. Add fish and simmer to poach for 10 minutes. Remove fish from the tea to a plate and flake with a fork.
  5. In a separate pot, cook pasta according to package directions and drain.
  6. To serve: toss noodles of choice with the ginger lime dressing and ladle into individual bowls. Add vegetables and flaked salmon. Top everything with a sprinkling of green onions, sesame seeds, and parsley or cilantro. Enjoy!
Notes and Substitutions
*Creamy peanut butter, sunflower seed butter or almond butter can be substituted for tahini
**For grain-free and/or Paleo, use zucchini noodles or shirataki noodles. If using zucchini noodles, you can either eat them raw and marinate the noodles in the dressing for a crunchier bite OR lightly sauté the noodles for 2-3 minutes until desired texture, then toss with the dressing.

asian noodle bowls tea poached salmon bite For more recipes from this month’s reveal, please click below!

March 22, 2015 at 10:00 pm 13 comments

Hemp Cacao Protein Shake (SRC)

Smoothies are an everyday must-have for me…99% of the time I start my day with a large glass of blended goodness (aka energy surge in a jar), mmmm!

I find that kicking off the morning with a smoothie or fresh juice is easiest on my tummy. Not only does it rev-up my digestion for the remainder of the day, it also squelches my hunger for a couple hours when I have time to eat a more solid meal and ensures that I have at least one nutrient-packed, high-quality meal no matter what the day throws at me.

Oh you know, the days when you plan on cooking that new elaborate dish you’ve been eyeing for a while…but (after a longer day than you anticipated), you wind up eating a couple scrambled eggs over quinoa for dinner…or a bowl of popcorn and a leftover energy bar from your purse. Yep, I have had more days recently like the latter than I’d like to admit.

hemp cacao smoothieI also realized it had been quite some time since I had posted a drink or smoothie recipe, so when I was assigned Rebekah’s lovely blog Making Miracles for the February’s Secret Recipe Club post…I chose her Hemp Chocolate Protein Shake for this month’s reveal, I was so excited to come across this recipe!

hemp cacao smoothie 3

I had a giant bag of hemp seeds from Costco in my fridge calling my name and I was craving something sweet and chocolatey, yet simple…wa-la! This shake was a delicious change from my go-to blueberry-Maca blend I’ve been making…so much so that I craved this nutty-cacao smoothie the next morning too :) 

I tried to stay true to Rebekah’s recipe…I couldn’t help but add my usual handful of baby greens (kale/chard/spinach)  and I wound up soaking the hemp hearts, dates and water in the fridge the night before to soften the dates a bit. The next morning all I had to do was add the remaining ingredients and blend…Breakfast on the go!

Just a few perks about Hemp Seeds in case you need a little nutritional nudge:

  • REWARD YOUR TASTE BUDS: Hemp hearts are delicious, they are nutty, often compared to sunflower seed or pine nuts… only better! Sprinkle on salads, cereal, quinoa, rice, roasted veggies, yogurt, add to smoothies, muffins, breads and other recipes…or eat a spoonful straight from the bag.
  • REWARD YOUR BRAIN: Your brain has many of the fatty acids found in bulk Super Hemp. Regular consumption may help improve your memory. Super Hemp seeds may also help symptoms of anxiety and depression while improving your mood.
  • REWARD YOUR WEIGHT LOSS: Super Hemp is a natural appetite suppressant making you feel full longer. Adding just four tablespoons of hemp seed to your meal can reduce your food cravings significantly. You will also feel more energy which can help you power through workouts and other activities to lose weight.
  • REWARD YOUR HEART AND LOWER BLOOD PRESSURE: Super Hemp seeds contain essential fatty acids that help reduce blood cholesterol. This keeps the heart healthy and also prevents plaque buildup in your arteries. Super Hemp fatty acids also reduce inflammation that can cause high blood pressure and poor blood circulation.
  • REWARD YOUR DIGESTIVE TRACT: Super Hemp provides high amounts of both insoluble and soluble fibers which keep your digestive tract healthy and clean. Super Hemp contains plant sterols and antioxidants helping reduce risk of colon, breast and prostate concerns. Super Hemp does NOT contain oligosaccharides such as found in soy, which often causes stomach upset and gas.

Intrigued? Give this shake a shot!

hemp cacao smoothie1

Hemp Chocolate/Cacao Protein Shake (slightly adapted from Making Miracles)
(Vegan, Dairy-free, Gluten-free, Grain-free, Fruit-Sweetened, Refined Sugar-free, Primal, Nut-free, Egg-free) 

Ingredients
1 cup cold filtered water
1 cup ice cubes
1 banana, cut into chunks (or use frozen for a colder, thicker textured shake / smoothie)
1/2 cup raw hemp seeds/ hemp hearts
2-4 pitted dates, depending taste (I used two but increase if you prefer sweeter) 
1-2 Tbsp raw cacao powder or cocoa powder, to taste
Handful or fresh leafy greens (such as baby spinach, kale, and/or chard), optional but for added nutrition 

5 minute prep Directions 

  1. Blend water, ice, banana, hemp seeds, dates (remove any pits), and cocoa powder together in a blender until smooth. 
  2. Enjoy immediately, refrigerate any leftovers.

Plan-ahead soaking method Directions

  1. The night before, combine hemp seeds, dates and water in a jar. Refrigerate overnight.
  2. When you are ready to make your smoothie, add hemp/date/water mixture to blender container. Add ice, banana, cacao/cocoa powder and greens. Blend until smooth. 
  3. Enjoy immediately, refrigerate any leftovers.

Serves 2-3
hemp cacao smoothie 2For other recipes from this month’s reveal, please click the link below!

February 22, 2015 at 10:00 pm 12 comments

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