Southwest Stuffed Peppers

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I didn’t realize how much I loved stuffed peppers until I started focusing on clean eating back in January. Here’s why they are awesome: they are decently easy to prep in advance, they reheat well, they easily function as a quick lunch!  Stuffed peppers create a complete meal in one veggie!  That’s why I included this meal as the first dinner in my recent Clean Eating, Clean Homes 5-day push!

I have recently become obsessed with all foods with a southwest influence.  I love beans and rice and cheese and spice, all guarantees when eating foods inspired by this region. For this recipe, though, I decided to sub out rice for quinoa. The change adds complete protein to the dish without compromising the taste or texture.  Combined with the right spices and fresh/freezer ingredients, these peppers have a little kick and a lot of protein.  

I am going to cut to the recipe quickly because I know you’re all dying to get to the store to buy the ingredients.  You won’t regret that choice!

Southwest Stuffed Peppers

A clean, fiesta-fitting version of a household classic.

Ingredients

    • 3 large peppers
    • 1.25lb extra lean ground turkey
    • 1/4 C diced sweet onion
    • 1 C black beans
    • 1 cup frozen or fresh corn
    • 2 teaspoons minced garlic
    • 1 C salsa
    • 1 C chicken broth
    • 1 C dry quinoa (white, red, or a blend.  I used the Super Blend from Whole Foods)
    • Mexican cheese blend
    • 1 tsp cayenne pepper
    • 1 tsp chili powder

 

 

 

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 400. Prepare quinoa according to package directions.
  2. Prep the peppers by washing, cutting in half, removing the seeds and stem, and placing open-side up in a greased glass baking dish.
  3. In a large saute pan, toss the onions in a tbsp olive oil over medium heat for 3-4 minutes, then add the ground turkey.  Once it browns, add in the beans, corn, garlic, salsa, and half the broth.  Toss to combine, and bring to a boil.  Reduce heat, cover, and simmer for 10 minutes.
  4. Add in the quinoa and seasonings and combine. Spoon into the peppers and top with cheese.
  5. Pour the remaining broth around the peppers.  
  6. Cover with foil and bake for 30 minutes.  Delicious–and no sides needed!

I’d love your feedback!  Please tell me your experience with this recipe or share your favorite stuffed peppers recipes!  I am always looking for new inspiration!

21 Day Fix Fish Tacos

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I really, truly love sea food–especially white fish. And I have come to love fish even more in recent months because it can be quite healthful. The right fish can be a perfect form of protein and many varieties contain an ideal amount of healthy fats. Fish can be rather lean and can often be doctored up much like chicken without being as filling. I often like a light her meal at dinner time, especially as the weather gets hotter and hotter, so fish is perfect.

At least once a week, I stop at Whole Foods on my way home from school and see my pal Dan, the fish monger. I always have a seafood meal listed on my weekly plan–such my honey orange salmon or BBQ shrimp–but if Dan has a better suggestion or if a certain cut or type of sea food is on sale, I am always open to a new option. Last night, this happened. I planned on making fish tostadas using tilapia and Ezekiel wraps. By the time I got to the store, though, I was already prepared to make a change. First off, I overextended my yellow containers at school (I blame my Relay for Life hangover! More on that in a later post!), and since it was only day 1 of my 21 Day Fix, I knew I needed to make up for an earlier splurge. Secondly, Whole Foods did not have any fresh tilapia. What Dan did have, though, were individually portioned Chilean sea bass fillets. I’ve never cooked sea bass before, but, in full disclosure, before my foray into clean eating this January, I hadn’t made many diverse foods.  I’m a cooking work-in-progress. Dan assured me that I could grill these much like I would a steak, so I bought two and made quick mental calculations as to how I could plan the rest of the meal around this unexpected purchase.

I grabbed a few avocados, a head of butter leaf lettuce, and went to the checkout–knowing full well that some of my clean staples already in my pantry and fridge would cap off a sure-to-be successful dinner.

I was right.

I am not a taco lover. Well, that’s isn’t a fair statement. I don’t think I’ve ever actually eaten a taco. So I guess I am a taco-averse person?! I also don’t entirely love hot food–like steamy, right-out-of-the-oven food. Except cookies. 😉 I often let my meal sit for a bit before I eat it just so it cools off and I never reheat my lunch. Never. But turn a taco shell into a veggie and the ground beef into a delicious white fish while deducting a ton of the physical heat–but still leaving the spice, of course–and I am all in.

This dinner was light and full of flavor. My mom and kids all approved–though my kids deconstructed theirs.

Side note/rhetorical question to parents: am I the only one with kids who LOVE to eat with their hands when not appropriate (i.e. Spaghetti or pancakes or apple sauce–spoons are for babies!) but refuse to eat with their hands when a meal actual calls for it? My 3 1/2 year-old had a near meltdown after his first bite of taco when 1 minuscule drip of salsa touched his palm. Okay, not a near melt down. A full on cry. Like a “you broke my Lego castle!” cry. Or a “You deleted all the Odd Squads!” cry. So I quickly cut up both kids’ tacos and got on with a more peaceful dinner.

I have discovered that jarred salsa is my go-to ingredient. When in doubt or playing around with a new possible recipe, I often lean on a jar or half jar of salsa to add a kick or moisture or texture. The right brand and the right variety–I love Paul Newman’s Mango or Pineapple Salsa in particular–add just the right something. I even add salsa to my turkey burgers!

After I grilled the sea bass, I layered it on a butter lettuce leaf with a slice of avocado and tablespoon of salsa. I then sprinkled a bit of Mexican cheese blend on top and served it with fresh pineapple. My mom and I felt like we were vacationing in the Caribbean with each bite. Plus, one taco was filling enough on a day in which I hit my yellow containers early and needed a light yet balanced dinner.

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Here’s the game plan! Give it a try with any white fish you’d like!

21 Day Fix Fish Tacos

  • Servings: 2-4
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

A fresh, light, Caribbean-inspired taco recipe using a lettuce wrap--perfect for a summer night!

Ingredients

  • 1/2 Chilean sea bass fillet per person (1 red container)
  • 1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 tsp chili powder
  • 1 tsp cumin
  • 1 tsp paprika (smoked would be best!)
  • 1 tbsp salsa of choice per person: I used 365 brand Mango and Peach salsa (1/4 purple container)
  • 1/4 avocado per person, sliced thin (1 blue container)
  • 1 butter lettuce leaf per person (1/2 green)
  • optional sprinkle of Mexican blend cheese
  • optional tsp of nonfat Greek yogurt (in lieu of sour cream–plus it adds protein!)

Directions

  1. Heat a grill pan over medium high heat.
  2. Drizzle sea bass with olive oil and spread to coat both sides. Sprinkle seasoning on top. (I only add seasoning on one side so I can still enjoy the flavor of the fish.)
  3. Grill sea bass for approximately 5-7 minutes per side, depending on thickness.
  4. Place avocado and salsa in a lettuce leaf. Add 1/2 sea bass filet. Top with cheese and/or Greek yogurt, roll up the sides, get messy, and enjoy!

**21 Day Fix Containers, per my own unofficial deductions: 1 red, 1 green (lettuce and salsa, though you may choose to count salsa in the purple container), 1 blue.  Non-Fixers can go all-out and add the cheese and nonfat Greek yogurt.

I’d love to get more lettuce wrap or fish taco recipes that are tried and true!  Feel free to leave one below!  Or, let me know if you would like to enroll in my next Clean Eating Group: Quick-N-Clean 15 minute meals!  I’m enrolling now!  I will provide 7 days of clean eating meals for both dinner and breakfast that can be on the table in 15 minutes or less.  This group is FREE, but space is limited! Don’t delay!

Pam’s Specialty: Fruit Salsa

I am hosting my first fitness and nutrition challenge group and I LOVE it.  The women participating are motivating me to work harder at meeting my exercise, nutrition, and water-intake goals each day.  It is also empowering to see so many women taking positive steps towards being their best, most well selves.  It takes courage and willpower to make the decision to do something for yourself–especially for moms or working women.  Seeing these remarkable women do that is just uplifting.

While planning out my Tasty Tuesday content for this week, I considered focusing on a recipe suitable for 21 Day Fix, but during the brainstorming process, I was chopping fruit for my “famous” fruit salsa and realized I was looking my recipe right in the face.  The amazing women in my group can treat themselves to this on March 21. 😉  Next week, though, I’ll post a recipe we can all love, 21 Day Fixers and all others alike.

If you invite me to your home–be it for brunch, a 31 party, the Super Bowl, you name it–you better believe I am bringing fruit salsa. Why? A. It is delicious. B. It is easy. C. It functions as app or dessert or topping (hello, waffles or pancakes!) or, even, side dish. D. It is semi-clean and decently healthy.  If you have 15 minutes, you, too can make this and be the favorite guest. It is also perfect to throw together when you have company coming over yourself or to keep in the fridge to top off some ice cream.

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I found a variation of this recipe years ago and have played around with it since.  Raspberry preserves really work best.  There is something about the tart, tangy nature that compliments the fresh fruit and the cinnamon. You can also switched out different fruit, but this combo is my jam–pun intended.  If you must change it up, though, do not eliminate the apple or strawberries.  They make this pop for sure.

I’ve been asked this recipe by many family and friends over the years, so let me give it to you straight.  Little back story, just yumminess!

INGREDIENTS
• 1 apple (golden delicious is my fave in this recipe, but any variety in season will work)
• 1/2 pint strawberries
• 1/2 pint blueberries
• 1 kiwi
• 1 tbsp seedless sugar-free or all-natural raspberry preserves

1. Chop all of the fruit, including larger blueberries, into small (approx. 1/2-1 cm) pieces.
2. Combine with the preserves in a glass dish.
3. Chill, covered, for at least 15 min (or overnight) and serve with homemade cinnamon sugar tortilla chips.  Stacy’s Cinnamon Sugar Pita Chips are perfect, too.

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TO MAKE YOUR OWN CHIPS:
• 4 Ezekiel tortillas, thawed
• nonstick coconut oil spray
• 1 tsp brown sugar
• 1 tsp cinnamon

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Spray cookie sheet with coconut oil nonstick spray.
  2. Break tortillas into bite size portions and arrange on the cookie sheet.  You will have to do this in batches.
  3. Spray the chips with the coconut oil, then sprinkle with the cinnamon and brown sugar.
  4. Bake quickly–for 3-5 minutes–depending on size of the chips.

You can also add sugar to the chips if you wish.  I like them like this! 

 

Lick-the-spoon Protein Cookies…and a Salad

I’ve missed cookies.  Cookies and ice cream are my two biggest weaknesses.  Since I’ve started drinking Shakeology every day, I no longer miss having a bowl of ice cream.  I have found so many recipe ideas online and just by playing around that I pretty much start each day with a chocolate or coffee milkshake.  This shake, though, is full of super foods and vitamins and the protein my body needs to burn fat, build muscle, and feel properly full.  But I’ve missed cookies. IMG_6953

Thank heavens for Pinterest and Facebook.  Between these two sources, I’ve found various recipes for energy bites and clean cookies that I am starting to satisfy these cravings with healthful, whole snacks.  Yesterday, I stumbled upon my favorite yet while mixing ideas from a few other recipes–and a faulty ingredient leftover from the weekend.

I am calling these Lick-the-Spoon Protein Cookies because you will do just that: lick the spoon clean after you finish portioning them on your cookie sheet.  They are eggless, so the batter is safe to eat raw, and they are gluten free if you use the right kind of old fashioned rolled oats. Plus, these took maybe two or three minutes to prepare.   Combine that with a 15 minute bake time, and I was munching on a few in less than 25 minutes.

What inspired the cookie creating?  I am currently running a Clean Eating Accountability group on Facebook and am on the lookout for some clean snacks to share with the ladies and one gentleman participating.  I found a basic recipe for banana oatmeal cookies that seemed simple and yummy enough alone, but the recipe lacked protein.  I have found protein to be so beneficial to my overall health and fitness that I wanted to make the cookies more worthwhile for me, my goals, and my participants.  Plus, I had just finished eating the most delicious and clean citrus chicken salad that I knew I could afford a cookie or two–the right cookie, anyway.

To up the protein ante, I added two ingredients: raw homemade almond butter and a little bit of chocolate Shakeology.  The almond butter addition came out of my desire to really live a clean lifestyle.  I attempted to grind down a cup of almonds for a Super Bowl Sunday snack, and my first attempt didn’t go well.  Instead of turning into a crumbly topping like I envisioned, the almonds became moist, dense, and chunky in my Nutribullet.  I succeeded on a second cup of almonds by using my blender instead, but the initial serving of almond “buttery” something just sat on my counter unused.  When I was mixing together the ingredients for the cookies and took a jar of almond butter out of my fridge, I remembered the forgotten blend from the day before and used that instead.  This added a crunch to some of the cookies as well, which I am not complaining about.

I added the Shakeology, and just a little bit, to add a chocolate flavor and some more health benefits, but this step can easily be left out or even subbed for cocoa powder if you aren’t interested in additional protein.

I’ll get to the actual recipe in a minute, but first, you have to earn it.  Here is the recipe for my clean citrus chicken salad.  I combined ingredients from various meals from the week to create an unplanned, accidental, delicious lunch that I cannot wait to have again today.

CLEAN CITRUS CHICKEN SALAD INGREDIENTS

I combined all ingredients in a bowl and enjoyed every bite.  This didn’t need any dressing, but if you find it to be dry, squeeze the juice out of one of the orange segments.  Keep it clean and light. 🙂  This salad will make you feel like you are vacationing in California–something my parents are currently doing–which this Jersey girl appreciated on a gray February afternoon.

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Drum roll, please. It’s cookie time.

Lick-the-spoon Protein Cookies

  • Servings: 12-18
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

Cookies so good, you'll forget they are healthy!

Ingredients

  • 2 overripe bananas, mashed
  • 1 cup organic old-fashioned rolled oats, certified gluten free if necessary
  • 2 tbsp. almond butter
  • 1 tbsp. chocolate Shakeology
  • 1/4 cup chocolate chips (I used dark mini chips)

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Directions

  1. Preheat your oven to 350 degrees.  Coat a cookie sheet with non-stick cooking spray  (I used coconut oil spray and the aroma is to-die-for and also vacation-like!).
  2. Combine the bananas (I mashed mine with a fork), oats, and almond butter until smooth.  If you are adding the Shakeology or cocoa powder, combine that now as well.
  3. Fold in the chocolate chips.  Spoon even rounds onto the cookie sheet.  Bake for 12-15 minutes, or until firm.  Allow to cool for one minute on the cookie sheet and then for 3 minutes on a cooling rack.
  4. Store in an air-tight container in your fridge–if you have any leftovers!

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This is an easy and yummy dessert that even your kids can enjoy.  A cookie without butter and eggs isIMG_6957 my new favorite kind of cookie.  Share your thoughts below or of any changes you made to the recipes.  Cooking and baking should allow for creativity.  Have confidence to play around with recipes and you will find true joy in the kitchen!
If you do not want to make your own almond butter, I have found this brand works very well for baking, for my Shakeology, on apples, and on Ezekiel toast.  It does have a rather nutty flavor, but it spreads well and doesn’t separate.  

If you like this recipe and want more healthy lunch and snack ideas, join my next FREE 5-day clean eating challenge!

 

One-Skillet Weeknight Chicken

Made one of the easiest meals I’ve managed to cook last night!  My husband was working late and I had a special shrimp meal planned that he loves but it does not reheat well. I knew I would make that once he got home for the two of us, but I needed something quick for the kids.  I had planned on making this while the kids were at school to have as grab-and-go lunches, but in a pinch it made the switch to dinner. This dish was a victory all around! My kids loved it, it was clean and nutritious, and it all happened in one skillet.  This recipe also yielded plenty of leftovers that I plan to eat over baby spinach for my 21 Day Fix lunches this week.

I am going to keep the monologue to a minimum with this post.  The meal is simple; the blog should be as well.  Here goes!

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INGREDIENTS

  • Two tomatoes (I used tomatoes-on-the-vine) chopped, ribs discarded
  • 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil, divided
  • sea salt, to taste
  • 1/4 cup fresh basil leaves, chopped
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 1 lb lean ground chicken
  • 1 medium zucchini, cut in thin spheres
  • 1 medium yellow squash, cut in thin spheres
  • 1/2 cup low-sodium organic chicken broth
  1. Chop tomatoes and place in a bowl.  Top with one tablespoon EVOO, sea salt, and basil leaves.  Stir to combine.  Set aside.
  2. Heat remaining tablespoon EVOO over medium heat in the bottom of a deep skillet. Add garlic and saute for 1 minute.
  3. Add the ground chicken and cook until brown, breaking it up with a wooden spoon as you go. Once browned, add the zucchini, squash and chicken broth, stirring to combine. Add tomato mixture, toss once more, then reduce heat to a simmer.  Cover, and allow the juices to combine for approximately 5 minutes.  Then serve over greens or as-is.

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This dish has basic, fresh flavors, but could easily be doctored for your family’s preferences.  You could add chili powder or cayenne pepper for some kick or even add eggplant to make it even more hearty. I sprinkled it with part-skim shredded mozz when I served it to my kids.  Let me know in the comments how you made this your own. 🙂

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