Category Archives: Dinner

Tzatziki Lamb Meatballs & Spiralized Beets

This dish is BOMB. Something about the combination of savory lamb meatballs baked with fresh mint from the garden and crunchy warm beets all topped with a creamy homemade cilantro tzatziki sauce make this dish so freaking delicious. It’s incredibly different and unique, and so tasty that I could honestly eat this for dinner at least once a week. Patrick and I found this recipe in our Inspiralize Everything Cookbook, and we fell in love with the idea of spiralized beets immediately. We made a few tweaks to the recipe to give it more flavor, and I think we’ve finally perfected the ingredients and quantities to our liking. I know it’s a weird combination of ingredients, but seriously – try it. You won’t regret.

Estimated Time: 1 hour

Ingredients (serves 4):

Meatballs:

  • Minced Ground lamb: 1 lb
  • Ground Cumin: 1.5 tbsp
  • Ground Coriander: 2 tsp
  • Paprika: 1/2 tsp
  • Garlic Cloves: 4 large, minced
  • Fresh Mint: 1/4 cup, minced
  • Breadcrumbs: 1/4 cup
  • Salt: 3 cranks
  • Pepper: 2 cranks

Beets:

  • Red Beets: 2 large, peeled and spiralized
  • Salt: to taste
  • Pepper: to taste

Yogurt Sauce:

  • Non-Fat Plain Greek Yogurt: 1/2 cup
  • Shallot: 1/2 shallot, minced
  • Fresh Cilantro: 2 tbsp, minced
  • Lemon Juice: 1/2 lemon, squeezed
  • Paprika: 1/2 tsp
  • Salt: 1 crank
  • Pepper: 1 crank
  • Water: 2 tbsp

Garnish:

  • Raw cashews: 1/4 cup, chopped or halved
  • Cilantro: 2 tbsp

Preheat the oven to 425. Prep two baking sheets with parchment paper. Separately, prep a third baking pan or sheet with cooking spray. Peel the beets, spiralize them, and distribute over the 2 parchment paper baking sheets. Sprinkle with salt and pepper, and then set aside.

Next start working on the meatballs. Combine all ingredients in a bowl, mix with hands, form 2″ meatballs and place on the baking sheet that’s been been sprayed with cooking spray. Place beets and meatballs in the oven and then set two timers. For the beets, bake for 10-12 minutes (or until al dente). For the meatballs, bake for 17-18 minutes. While those bad boys are baking, prepare the tzatziki sauce. You’ll see I added 2 tbsp water into this sauce, only because I like a more runny consistency. But if you like the sauce on the thicker side, you can omit the water.

Beets should be close to done by now, so take those out when the timer goes off and then distribute the noodles amongst 4 plates. Last but not least, chop up your cashews and place on a baking sheet (I just reused the baking sheet from the beets).

Once the meatballs are done, take them out and then switch the oven to broil. Broil the cashews for 1-2 minutes (watch closely! They will burn fast!). Add the meatballs and tzatziki sauce to the plated dishes, and garnish with cashews and cilantro. Yum yum yum!

Warm Spinach & Sausage Caesar Salad

This warm green salad is very easy to make, and is hearty enough on its own for lunch or dinner. The tasty flavors of savory sausage juxtapose sweet, ripe grape tomatoes and crunchy spinach melt in your mouth. Dine al fresco with a glass of rose, and I’d say you’re set for a good day.

Estimated Time: 15 minutes

Ingredients (serves 1):

  • Baby Spinach: 3 big handfuls
  • Mild or Hot Italian Sausage: 1 link (I recommend New York Style Sausage Company)
  • Grape Tomatoes: 10 grape tomatoes, sliced in halves
  • Baby Bella Mushrooms: 3 large mushrooms, sliced
  • Light Caesar Dressing: 1 tbsp (I recommend Ken’s Lite Caesar)
  • Grated Parmesan Cheese: 1 tbsp
  • Olive Oil: 1 tsp

Pour the olive oil into a small skillet, and turn to medium-high heat. When the pan gets hot, place the sausage in the pan and cover with a glass top. Sear for about 3 minutes, flip, and sear and char the other side for another 3-4 minutes (keep glass top on while searing). Next, pour just a couple tablespoons of water into the pan, cover, and reduce heat to medium. This creates some steam for the sausage to continue cooking. Continue cooking for another 5 minutes with glass top on the pan, or until sausage is cooked all the way through. Meanwhile, combine all the remaining ingredients into a large bowl. Slice the sausage into bite-size pieces, add to the salad, and stir together. Done!

Veggie Chickpea Curry

Totally healthy and extremely tasty. Need I say more? Clean. Colorful. Vegan. Yummy. This is a great, easy curry that is full of protein and fiber. Between the mix of cumin, curry powder, tumeric, ginger and fresh squeezed lemon juice, this dish packs a punch that pairs nicely with a side of warm brown rice.

Estimated Time: 1 hour

Ingredients (serves 5-6):

  • Cauliflower: 1/2 large head, chopped
  • Baby Carrots: 4 handfuls, chopped
  • Onion: 1/2 large, chopped
  • Petite Diced Tomatoes: 14.5 oz can
  • Diced Green Chilis: 4oz can
  • Garlic: 3 cloves, minced
  • Fresh Ginger Root: 2 tbsp, grated
  • Cumin Powder: 3 tbsp
  • Curry Powder: 3 tbsp
  • Tumeric: 1/2 tbsp
  • Cayenne Powder (optional): 1/2 tsp
  • Lemon Juice: 1 whole lemon, juiced
  • Water: 1/2 cup
  • Olive Oil: 2 tbsp
  • Fresh Cilantro: garnish

If you’re craving brown rice with this recipe, get that started first. Next, combine olive oil, carrots, onion and garlic in a large pot and turn to medium/high heat. With a wooden spatula, mix the olive oil around with the vegetables and continue stirring for about 3 minutes. Turn the heat down to low/medium and begin chopping up the cauliflower into small bite-sized pieces. Once that’s all cut up, add the in the cauliflower, diced tomatoes, green chiles, fresh ginger root, cumin powder, curry powder, tumeric powder and optional cayenne powder to the pot. Give it a good stir and increase heat to medium for about 10 minutes. Next, stir in a 1/2 cup of water. Cover the pot with a glass top, reduce heat to low/medium and continue simmering for approximately 30-40 minutes. Not done yet! Turn the stove off and squeeze in the fresh lemon juice. Mix all together and now you’re done! Serve over a bed of brown rice and garnish with fresh cilantro.

Best Ever Turkey Zucchini Burgers with Avocado

Looking for a super moist turkey burger that’s full of flavor? These burgers are fiance-approved, and refreshingly light on the tummy. By substituting cheese with fresh avocado and vine-ripe tomatoes, we’re adding tasty colors to this best-ever turkey patty. Ah yes, that turkey patty, the star of the show. No ketchup, mustard or mayo needed on this number: I’m giving away three secret ingredients that make this turkey patty stand proud on it’s own: fresh basil (for impeccable flavor), Worcestershire sauce (you’ll taste why) and zucchini (for moisture and nutritional content – double bonus!). Get excited.

Estimated Time: (1 hour 20 minutes, which includes 1 hour of marinating time)

Turkey Patty Ingredients (serves 5):

  • Lean Ground Turkey: 16oz
  • Raw Zucchini: 1 medium, shredded
  • Whole Wheat Bread Crumbs: 1/4 cup
  • Yellow Onion: 2 tbsp, minced
  • Garlic: 1 clove, minced
  • Fresh Basil: 2 tbsp, minced
  • Worcestershire Sauce: 1.5 tsp
  • Salt: 2-3 dashes
  • Pepper: 2-3 dashes

Burger Ingredients:

  • Hamburger Buns (wheat or white): 5 buns
  • Hass Avocado: 1 large, sliced
  • Vine-Ripe Tomato: 1 large, sliced thick
  • Yellow Onion: 1/2 large, sliced
  • Iceburg Lettuce: 5-6 large leaves

Start by preparing the turkey meat. Combine all ingredients into a large bowl and mix with clean hands. Note to engaged women: unless you want raw meat in it, take off your engagement ring. On a large plate or baking dish, split and create 5 patties, cover with plastic wrap, and refrigerate for at least one hour.

Once you’re ready to grill, start up the barbecue and clean off any old residue. Grill the turkey patties for approximately 8 minutes, flip, and cook for another 5 minutes or until the meat is cooked all the way through. Meanwhile, using cooking spray, sauté your onions in a small skillet via kitchen stovepot on low heat while the burgers cook. Onions will take about 10 minutes. Once the burgers are close to being done, toast the hamburger buns on the grill for light crunch.

Stack all the ingredients onto the bun and you’re done! Also optional to eat your burger “naked” by substituting the hamburger bread with fresh crisp iceburg lettuce. Hope you enjoy it!

Spicy Sausage Zucchini Pasta

Crumbly, hearty sausage bits simmered with grape tomatoes spilling over a bed of light, fresh zucchini noodles…you gotta try this. If you’ve never tried zucchini noodles, I urge you to give it a go. And while yes, it is not real “pasta,” it still gratifies the mind with every twirling bite. I use my spiralizer at least once a week with no regrets because it’s so easy to use and it whips out noodles of all sorts in a matter of 2-3 minutes.  By using spicy sausage, this dish delivers a spicy punch which actually pairs nicely with the subtle, accommodating features of the zucchini.  Not to mention, this tasty meal is super friendly on the calorie budget.

Estimated time: 30 minutes

Ingredients (serves 2):

  • Hot Italian Sausages: 3 links (I recommend New York Style Sausage Company)
  • Raw Zucchinis: 4 medium
  • Grape Tomatoes: 3 big handfuls, cut in halves
  • Low Sodium Chicken Broth: 1/2 cup
  • Cooking Spray: 2 pumps
  • Fresh Oregano: leaves from 2 sprigs
  • Parmesan Cheese: 2 tbsp

Using your spiralizer, spiralize your zucchinis first. Spread the noodles out on a cutting board, and cut the noodles in 5-6 inch increments (the noodles can get very very long if you don’t cut them up a little bit). Next, spray a large non-stick skillet or wok with cooking spray and warm to medium/high heat. Cut the casing off the sausage and throw all the meat in the pan. Dispose the casing. With a wooden spatula, break apart the sausage into smaller crumbles as it cooks. Once the sausage begins to brown, add the grape tomatoes halves, chicken broth and oregano leaves. Reduce heat to super low and simmer for about 5-7 minutes or until most of the liquid is absorbed into the meat. Add in the zucchini noodles and continue cooking for 2-3 minutes. The zucchini will release more water into the mixture, giving you back some sauce. Be careful not to overcook the noodles (the noodles will keep cooking even after you turn the stove off) – you’ll want to keep a bit of crunch upon serving. Turn the stove off, plate the dish, and top with a tablespoon of parmesan cheese. Tasty!

BBQ Pork Pizzas

This pizza is totally guilt-free. And while cauliflower crust is sort of cool, this barbecue pizza is waaaaay cooler in my opinion, and much faster to make. We had some left-over ribs in the fridge that I didn’t want to go to waste, but you can totally substitute with any other type of meat. Imagine this in your mouth right this second: light tender pork, tangy barbecue sauce, crisp red onions, fragrant herbs cut fresh from the garden, and delicious mozzarella cheese. So much yes.

Estimated Time: 30 minutes

Ingredients (serves 2):

  • Grilled Pork Ribs: 4 pork ribs, deboned and shredded with fork
  • *Substitute Grilled or Baked Chicken: 6 oz, shredded with fork
  • La Tortilla Factory Low Carb, High Fiber Tortilla – 2 large tortillas
  • Cooking Spray – 2 pumps
  • Barbecue Sauce: 1/4 cup
  • Red Onion: 1/3 cup, chopped
  • Cilantro: 1/3 cup, chopped
  • Green Onions: 2 large stocks, chopped
  • Low Fat Mozzarella Cheese: 2/3 cup, shredded
  • Red Pepper Flakes: 2 dashes, optional

 

Using a small convection oven or large regular sized oven, preheat to 350. If using a small convection oven, you might have to do one pizza at a time (which is no biggie because these bake fast). Spray the topside of each tortilla with cooking spray and toast the tortillas for approximately 2-3 minutes depending on your oven. You want the tortillas to be just a bit more firm than when they started.  Now, spread the barbecue sauce evenly across the two tortillas; the trick is spreading all the way to the edge of the tortilla so that you get enough sauce in every bite. Distribute and layer all of the remaining ingredients onto the pizzas and bake for about 5-7 minutes or until cheese is melted. Top with red pepper flakes if you’re feeling spicy. Pair with a spinach salad and call it a night!

Cilantro-Lime Halibut Tacos & Fresh Guacamole

halibut-cilantro-fajitas-tacos-guacamole

halibut-cilantro-fajitas-tacos

Fresh, bright green cilantro cooked with flaky halibut and tangy lime = heaven in my mouth. Add in a huge dollop of creamy guacamole and I’d say you’ve reached border line foodporn. This spread is particularly great for group gatherings, since everyone can sort of pick and choose which ingredients they want to throw into a tortilla. Plus, halibut is a totally lean protein machine and people usually don’t even realize they’re “eating healthy.” Lastly, I’m not the best at sharing food, so I totally get it if you end up not sharing at all and saving the whole thing for yourself. #nojudgements

Estimated Time: 1.5 hours; includes 1 hour to marinate the halibut

Ingredients (serves 3-4):

Cilantro-Lime Halibut

  • Fresh Halibut: 12-15oz
  • Cilantro: 1/4 cup, chopped
  • Garlic Cloves: 2 cloves, minced
  • Lime Juice: 2 fresh limes, squeezed
  • Olive Oil: 1 tsp
  • Taco Seasoning: 2 tbsp
  • Cayenne Powder: 1/2 tsp
  • Ground Cumin: 1 tbsp

Fresh Guacamole

  • Avocado: 2 fresh
  • Red Onion: 1/8 cup, chopped finely
  • Cilantro: 1/8 cup, chopped finely
  • Lime Juice: 1/2 lime, squeezed
  • Garlic Powder: 1 tsp
  • Salt: 1 tsp

Additional Buffet Items:

  • Whole Wheat Tortillas
  • Fresh Pico De Gallo
  • Chopped Lettuce
  • Fat Free Cheddar Cheese
  • Fat Free Sour Cream
  • Low Fat Tortilla Chips

First, you’re going to want to marinate the halibut for about an hour. Cut the halibut up into small bite-size pieces and mix all the ingredients together in a large ziplock bag. Place the halibut in the fridge and let marinate for about an hour. While those flavors are blending, work on the guacamole. Simply combine all the ingredients together and mix well. Add/subtract salt and garlic powder according to taste. Don’t forget to leave the avocado bulb in the bowl with the guacamole: it keeps the guac from turning brown!

Once the fish has marinated for about an hour, spray a large skillet with cooking spray and heat it up on medium heat. Add in the fish and cook for no more than 5 minutes, stirring often. The halibut should cook quite quickly, and you don’t want to overcook. You’ll know it’s done when the pieces turn white and easily flake apart. Serve immediately amongst all the other ingredients.

Hearty Cauliflower & Lentil Curry

cauliflower-lentil-curry

Looking for a hearty lunch or dinner with some ethnic flare? Packed with protein and fiber, this light non-spicy lentil curry will keep you feeling fuller, longer. Try this blend of tomato, cauliflower and lentils over a bed of lettuce or brown rice. Or, pair with with warm whole wheat pita bread. The recipe serves 8, so I’d recommend portioning out the dish into individual zip-lock bags and freezing them for when you need a quick bite to eat.

Estimated Cooking Time: 1.5 hours

Ingredients (serves 8):

  • Cauliflower: 1 large head, chopped into small pieces
  • Dry Lentils: 1 cup
  • Water: 4 cups
  • Onion: 1 large, chopped
  • Canned Stewed Tomatoes: 2 cans
  • Canned Green Chiles: 4 tbsp
  • Garlic Cloves: 6 cloves, minced
  • Fresh Ginger Root: 3 tbsp
  • Curry Powder: 4 tsp
  • Salt: 1 tsp
  • Tumeric: 1/2 tsp
  • Cumin Powder: 3 tbsp
  • Cayenne Pepper: 1 tsp
  • Lemon Juice: 4 tbsp
  • Olive Oil: 2 tbsp

Combine lentils, water, onion, curry powder, salt and tumeric in a large pot over medium heat. Bring to a boil, and then reduce heat to low. Cover and simmer for about 45 or until lentils soften up. Once the mixture has thickened, add in the cauliflower, tomatoes and green chiles to the pot and cook for about 10 more minutes.

When the cauliflower is about 90% soft, start working on the oil mixture in a separate pan: combine the olive oil,  cumin, garlic and ginger over medium heat and cook for about 1 minute. Once the garlic is browned, add in the cayenne pepper. The lentil cauliflower pot should be done by now, so immediately add the oil mixture to the lentil/cauliflower mixture. Lastly, add in the lemon juice and stir everything together.

Serve immediately over a bed of lettuce, brown rice or pita bread.

Weight Watchers Point Plus: 4 points plus per serving

 

 

Eating Clean: Avocado, Apple & Salmon Salad

Eating Clean: Avocado, Apple & Salmon Spinach Salad

As I mentioned in my previous post, I’m going nuts over the fresh salmon my dad recently caught. I had some leftover fillets and decided to make myself a clean fruit & salmon salad. You’re getting plenty of healthy fats from the avocado and salmon, and the chopped apple really adds a nice sweet flavor when positioned against the spicy salsa. I put tons of spinach and kale in there, so it ends up being a large salad- big enough for dinner. This is also a great lunch salad; sometimes I’ll make and pack it at night and take it to work with me the next day.

Estimated Time (15 minutes):

Ingredients (serves 1):

  • Spinach & Baby Kale Mix: 2-3 handfuls
  • Fuji Apple (chopped): 1/2 small
  • Avocado: 1/4 medium
  • Roma Tomato (chopped): 1 small
  • Carrot (chopped): 1 medium
  • Lemon: 1 slice
  • Pico De Gallo Salsa: 2 tbsp
  • Grilled Salmon: 4 oz

Place all ingredients in a bowl and squeeze all the juice out of the lemon.  Toss lightly. The pico de gallo salsa and lemon juice are used as dressing which helps keep the fat content down. It’s light, fresh and super good for you.

Weight Watchers Points: 7 points plus

 

 

The Infamous Juice Cleanse Detox

detox juice cleansebex-juice-cleanse

Yep, I did it. I tried it. I gave it my all. I was committed. I didn’t cave to solid food. I wasn’t even “starving.” Yet, I both succeeded and failed at the infamous juice cleanse detox.

Why’d I do it? Well, despite my very healthy weekday meals and activities, I had spent the last few weekends with a lot of alcohol and I just felt like I needed to cleanse my body from all the toxins. I had heard about juice cleanses in the past, and had read that they often make you more productive, energetic and happy. This sounded like fun! After all, a new cold pressed juice shop just opened up down the street from my house. Why not give it a go? I signed up for a 3-day cleanse.

Here’s the truth about these juice cleanses: they’re different with each person. For me, it was a fucking disaster. Pardon my language, but this one merits some serious passion. Let me recap how it all went down with the JC:

  • Day 1: “This is fun! Sip on a juice every two hours…easy!” I was feeling confident and excited by this new project. I even went to the gym and did some cardio and weight resistance training. The juices tasted pretty sweet to me, but I wasn’t hungry or starving at all. I went to bed feeling excited to start Day 2.
  • Day 2 Morning: “Alright, let’s get to that first juice. Looking forward to a productive day of working out and running errands.” Got through juices 1-3 and completed a pretty good cardio spin class workout. Was running on endorphins around noon and felt great. Still no cravings for solid food. Go ahead and be fooled by the smile in the photo above, that’s when I thought all was bright and chipper!
  • Day 2 Afternoon/Evening: “Oh wait, I have a headache. Actually, I have like a REALLY bad headache.” I don’t know what happened here but this is where things started to spiral downhill. I completed the rest of my juices for the day, confused by what had happened to me. Honestly, it felt like I was REALLY hungover (and I didn’t even get a single glass of wine out of it! psst). Still no food in my body, but I figured it would go away with sleep.
  • Day 3: “Okay, now my head and my joints hurt. Maybe this isn’t for me.” By day 3, I decided to opt out of the juice cleanse. From here, I eased back into raw fruits and vegetables. And I was tired. Really tired.
  • Day 4: I’ve never been more excited for a kale and eggwhite scramble in my life. I made a delicious zucchini noodle and bay shrimp marina dish for dinner (stay tuned for the recipe!), and the headache was finally starting to go away. THANK G.

What happened to me? Not quite sure. But, my body was definitely communicating with me and I’m glad I listened to it. I had read that headaches are a common side effect, but these side effects were so severe that this juice cleanse only made me feel more lethargic, unproductive and sleepy. Not to mention, I don’t think my body was used to all the sugar from the fruit juices. However, this is how my body reacted to the cleanse; my sister-in-law did the cleanse with me, and she felt great the entire time. Different for everyone.

Hey man, at least I tried it: I both succeeded and failed at the infamous juice cleanse detox.