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Primal Zucchini Gratin with Goat Cheese and Rosemary

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Tis the season for comfort food.

I think the typical notion is that comfort food leaves you feeling heavy and full. Not my Goat Cheese Zucchini Gratin. It is warm and creamy and bubbly and the perfect side-dish to any meal. It will give you all the feels of comfort — satisfied, warm, a little decadent and rich – but it won’t leave you feeling heavy and full.

If you’re not a fan of tomatoes, you can leave them off — I add them because, well, we LOVE roasted tomatoes with just about anything! But also because they add a beautiful pop of color and acidity that cuts through the goat cheese.

This is a SUPER easy dish to prepare. But if you have a Japanese Mandolin, it is even easier! If you don’t have one – BUY ONE NOW! You will use it a ton once you realize how easy it makes your life!

This would be a great new-addition to your traditional Christmas dinner or something easy to make for the family or just yourself 🙂 on a busy weeknight! The leftovers are great for lunch the next day!

Hope you enjoy this as much as we do!

Primal Zucchini Gratin with Goat Cheese and Rosemary

Serves 4-6

Ingredients:

  • 4 medium zucchini, cut into approx. ¼” slices
  • sea salt and black pepper
  • 2 tbsp arrowroot flour
  • 1 cup canned coconut milk (light or full fat)
  • 1 tbsp grass fed butter
  • 4oz spreadable goat cheese or goat cheese log, room temp
  • ½ tsp garlic powder
  • 2 sprigs fresh rosemary, finely chopped
  • ¼ – ½ cup low sodium chicken/vegetable stock or filtered water
  • 10-12 cherry tomatoes
  • 4oz raw goat cheddar, or manchego, grated
  • ½ cup chickpea breadcrumbs or almond flour
  • fresh chives, finely chopped, for garnish

Directions:

  • Place a large dish towel onto your countertop and lay zucchini out in a single layer and sprinkle with salt – leave for 30-45 minutes.
  • Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.
  • Using a paper towel or another dish towel, press gently over the top of the zucchini to absorb some of the moisture. Repeat this a few times to get as much moisture off as possible.
  • Spray an 8×8 casserole dish with cooking spray and arrange ½ of the zucchini slices in several overlapping rows. Sprinkle with black pepper.
  • Combine the arrowroot and coconut milk in a small bowl and whisk well to combine/until smooth.
  • Then, add the butter to a medium saucepan over medium-low heat. Once melted, add in spreadable goat cheese, garlic powder and a pinch of sea salt and black pepper. Heat for a few minutes stirring frequently, until the goat cheese melts and the mixture is smooth. Pour in the coconut milk/arrowroot mixture while whisking. Continue to whisk until the mixture is completely incorporated. Turn the heat to low and allow to simmer 3-4 minutes, until the sauce thickens/coats the back of a wooden spoon. Add in the stock/water in ¼ cup increments, if the sauce is too thick.
  • Add in the rosemary and stir to combine. Pour ½ of the mixture evenly over the zucchini and spread ½ of the raw goat cheddar/manchego on top. Then layer the remaining zucchini, sauce and top with remaining raw cheddar/manchego and tomatoes.
  • Cover and bake for 25 minutes. Uncover and top with chickpea breadcrumbs or almond flour. Bake another 15 minutes, until the cheese and breadcrumbs/flour is golden brown and tomatoes are roasted.
  • Garnish with chives and serve.
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Instructions
  1. Place a large dish towel onto your countertop and lay zucchini out in a single layer and sprinkle with salt – leave for 30-45 minutes.
  2. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.
  3. Using a paper towel or another dish towel, press gently over the top of the zucchini to absorb some of the moisture. Repeat this a few times to get as much moisture off as possible.
  4. Spray an 8x8 casserole dish with cooking spray and arrange ½ of the zucchini slices in several overlapping rows. Sprinkle with black pepper.
  5. Combine the arrowroot and coconut milk in a small bowl and whisk well to combine/until smooth.
  6. Then, add the butter to a medium saucepan over medium-low heat. Once melted, add in spreadable goat cheese, garlic powder and a pinch of sea salt and black pepper. Heat for a few minutes stirring frequently, until the goat cheese melts and the mixture is smooth. Pour in the coconut milk/arrowroot mixture while whisking. Continue to whisk until the mixture is completely incorporated. Turn the heat to low and allow to simmer 3-4 minutes, until the sauce thickens/coats the back of a wooden spoon. Add in the stock/water in ¼ cup increments, if the sauce is too thick.
  7. Add in the rosemary and stir to combine. Pour ½ of the mixture evenly over the zucchini and spread ½ of the raw goat cheddar/manchego on top. Then layer the remaining zucchini, sauce and top with remaining raw cheddar/manchego and tomatoes.
  8. Cover and bake for 25 minutes. Uncover and top with chickpea breadcrumbs or almond flour. Bake another 15 minutes, until the cheese and breadcrumbs/flour is golden brown and tomatoes are roasted.
  9. Garnish with chives and serve.
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Zucchini “Pasta” Salad with Avocado Pesto and Roasted Chicken

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I. LOVE. PASTA. I’m Italian – well, 25% or something… Maybe I should do the ancestry.com thing? Regardless – my Italian grandmother cooked for me all the time, growing up – in fact, she is the reason I am a Nutritionist and because of her I practice Nutrition holistically. She has always cooked with high quality, healthy fats and sprouted grains. She was sprouting grains before it was even a “thing.” She would make Zucchini Muffins and we would add bran and olive oil to them and then smear lots of good, REAL butter on them when they came out of the oven. I can taste them now as I type this…

All of that to say – I CRAVE Italian food but what I dislike about pasta is you can have so little for SO many carbohydrates and calories. NO I don’t advocate counting calories, BUT the way Mo and I eat (ehemmmm – we could probably eat most people under the table!) I want quality AND quantity! So, I’ve fallen in love with the discovery of making vegetables into noodles. Just makes me happy to have a plate full of vegetables that satisfy me the way a plate full of good old fashioned spaghetti does.

This Zucchini “Pasta” makes the perfect summer dish – it’s hearty but refreshing, and super clean – full of healthy fats from the avocado, pine nuts and olive oil and it can be served at room temp or slightly chilled, so it’s perfect in warmer weather! Another bonus – no standing over the stove! Once the chicken is cooked, the heat in the kitchen is turned off!

The Avocado Pesto is completely dairy free and vegan and I promise you won’t miss the cheese! It is great in this recipe but could be your new go-to for pesto’s in other recipes!

This is a super easy to make dinner, but can also serve as a great lunch for the kiddos or to take to work! Just prep all of the ingredients and portion out the zucchini, sundried tomatoes and shredded chicken in individual tupperware and then do the same with pesto in separate tupperware – keep in the fridge and grab and go in the mornings! When you’re ready to eat, simply pour the pesto over the zucchini, etc., shake it up and enjoy!

Hope you enjoy this easy to make lunch or dinner! You’ll feel satisfied and refreshed after eating it!

Zucchini “Pasta” Salad with Avocado Pesto and Roasted Chicken

Serves 2-4

Ingredients:

  • 2 bone-in, skin-on free range chicken breasts***
  • 3 medium zucchini, spiralized into noodles using a spiralizer or peeler
  • ¼ cup sun-dried tomatoes packed in olive oil, drained and thinly sliced
  • 2 cups loosely packed basil
  • 1 cup loosely packed flat leaf parsley
  • 1 medium avocado, pitted
  • ¼ cup + 2 tbsp pine nuts, lightly toasted, divided
  • 2 cloves garlic, peeled
  • zest of 1 lemon, juice of ½ lemon
  • 1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • sea salt and black pepper, to taste
  • approx. ¼ – 1/3 cup filtered water
  • Optional: 1 tsp crushed red pepper flakes

Directions:

  • Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.
  • Line a baking sheet with foil and place chicken, bone-side-down/skin-side-up, onto the pan. Rub chicken all over with sea salt and black pepper.
  • Place chicken into the oven on the top rack and roast 25-40 minutes, depending upon how large the breasts are — until a meat thermometer reads 160 degrees. Pull out of the oven and allow to cool at least 20 minutes, so that you can handle it with your hands.

  • While the chicken is roasting, spiralize the zucchini and place in a large bowl and set aside.

  • While the chicken is cooling, make the pesto. In a food processor, fitted with the steel blade, combine the basil, parsley, avocado, ¼ cup pine nuts, garlic, lemon zest/juice and olive oil. Process until combined. With the processor running, add just enough water to make a smooth, but not runny, sauce – no more than a few tablespoons at a time. Season with sea salt and black pepper, to taste.

  • Before shredding the chicken, if you want to use the skin, gently peel it off of the top of the breast and lay flat on the same pan you roasted the chicken on and turn oven to broil. Then, shred the chicken and place into the bowl with the zucchini, add the sundried tomatoes. Pour the sauce over and toss well to combine.

  • Place the chicken skin into the oven on the top rack for 45 seconds to 1 minute – until skin is crisped up.
  • Plate the zucchini, etc. and top with a few pine nuts, red pepper flakes and crispy chicken skin, if you’d like!
  • This is best enjoyed the day it is made.

Notes:

  • Feel free to substitute a pre-roasted rotisserie chicken vs roasting your own. You can certainly use the dark meat as well, if you enjoy it!
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Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.
  2. Line a baking sheet with foil and place chicken, bone-side-down/skin-side-up, onto the pan. Rub chicken all over with sea salt and black pepper.
  3. Place chicken into the oven on the top rack and roast 25-40 minutes, depending upon how large the breasts are -- until a meat thermometer reads 160 degrees. Pull out of the oven and allow to cool at least 20 minutes, so that you can handle it with your hands.
  4. While the chicken is roasting, spiralize the zucchini and place in a large bowl and set aside.
  5. While the chicken is cooling, make the pesto. In a food processor, fitted with the steel blade, combine the basil, parsley, avocado, ¼ cup pine nuts, garlic, lemon zest/juice and olive oil. Process until combined. With the processor running, add just enough water to make a smooth, but not runny, sauce – no more than a few tablespoons at a time. Season with sea salt and black pepper, to taste.
  6. Before shredding the chicken, if you want to use the skin, gently peel it off of the top of the breast and lay flat on the same pan you roasted the chicken on and turn oven to broil. Then, shred the chicken and place into the bowl with the zucchini, add the sundried tomatoes. Pour the sauce over and toss well to combine.
  7. Place the chicken skin into the oven on the top rack for 45 seconds to 1 minute - until skin is crisped up.
  8. Plate the zucchini, etc. and top with a few pine nuts, red pepper flakes and crispy chicken skin, if you’d like!
  9. This is best enjoyed the day it is made.
Recipe Notes

Feel free to substitute a pre-roasted rotisserie chicken vs roasting your own. You can certainly use the dark meat as well, if you enjoy it!

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Paleo Cilantro Lime Coleslaw

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This Paleo Coleslaw is one of my favorite go-to recipes on a Sunday or Monday night when I want to make something that will give us leftovers for lunches for the week ahead! It is so versatile – I’ll make it to go as a side to Grilled or Rotisserie Chicken topped with Guacamole or Avocado or as a side to my Ancho Chile Shrimp Tacos — or any tacos for that matter! I made Hatch Chile BBQ Turkey Burgers last night with Sweet Potato Fries and served this slaw to go with it!

Doesn’t that look awesome?

You could also make THESE burgers! I always like to have a little, well, “roughage” if you will! In spite of the name of this recipe, sometimes I will replace the Cilantro with fresh Basil – it is an awesome variation!

This is a perfect summer recipe for these hot and humid days here in Texas! It is creamy and crunchy and refreshing! It literally tastes like summer!

There are two ways to make this coleslaw – one is super quick and easy and one is a tad more time-consuming! If you need the quick and easy – I suggest buying the pre-mixed coleslaw – I started doing this and it makes life so much easier! Sometimes I can only find the “Salad Kit” for the coleslaw (pictured below) – I’ll just buy that and throw out the dressing that comes with it. Because, the dressing recipe below is SO good and super clean. The one that comes in the bag – not so much!

I suggest making this the night before, if you have time — it gets better and better as it sits in the fridge and the flavors have time to marry.

Hope you enjoy!

Paleo Cilantro Lime Cole Slaw

Serves 6-8

Slaw Ingredients:

  • 1 head Green Cabbage, chopped
  • 1 head Purple Cabbage, chopped
  • 2 large Carrots, peeled and grated
  • ½ bunch Cilantro, leaves removed and chopped
  • 1 bunch green onion (green and white parts) or chives, chopped

OR

  • 2 bags/containers pre-chopped Coleslaw mix
  • ½ bunch Cilantro, leaves removed and chopped
  • 1 bunch green onion (green and white parts) or chives, chopped

Dressing Ingredients:

  • ¾ cup Avocado Oil Mayonnaise
  • 1 tbsp Bragg’s Apple Cider Vinegar
  • zest and juice of 1 Lime
  • ½ tbsp Raw/Local Honey
  • ½ tsp Celery Salt
  • ½ tsp Sea Salt
  • 1/8 tsp Black Pepper
  • 1/8 tsp Cayenne Pepper

Directions:

  • Combine the slaw ingredients in a large bowl.

  • Combine all of the dressing ingredients in a medium sized bowl and whisk until smooth and creamy.

  • Pour dressing over the slaw, toss well to combine.

  • This is best if it is refrigerated for at least 30 minutes, up to overnight, prior to serving!
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Instructions
  1. Combine the slaw ingredients in a large bowl.
  2. Combine all of the dressing ingredients in a medium sized bowl and whisk until smooth and creamy.
  3. Pour dressing over the slaw, toss well to combine.
  4. This is best if it is refrigerated for at least 30 minutes, up to overnight, prior to serving!
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“5 Minute” Grain Free Bread

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If you Pinterest in the Paleo food arena at all, you’ve seen all sorts of “5 Minute Paleo Bread” recipes. Many of them advertise that the recipe makes “Sandwich Bread.” It all kind of sounds too good to be true, right? …as many Pins do. Trust me – I’ve tried many and some are a complete flop. That said, some are FANTASTIC and some of my favorite go-to’s. Patience and a loving husband who will eat most anything you put in front of him, are key!

But these recipes — I mean, let’s list off the things “promised” from this recipe: homemade bread that is yeast free, grain free, gluten free, good for you, uses nothing but “whole foods”, it will replace that shelf-stable sandwich bread you’ve been buying AND it only takes 5 minutes to make! Who WOULDN’T try this?

I get on kicks with my recipes. I made ice cream 5 or 6 days in a row a few weeks ago! All sorts of flavors! Right now, I’m on a “bread” kick. I made Paleo Tortillas last week. I’m experimenting with Paleo Drop Biscuits this week. Once I get that recipe where I like it, I’ll share it! So, stay tuned! This past weekend I decided to give this “5 Minute Paleo Bread” a shot and see if the hype held up! Here’s what I found:

As far as it only taking 5 minutes to make — if you have all of the ingredients set out beforehand and do no cleaning as you go, then yes, only 5 minutes. But most of us only have 1 set of measuring spoons, etc. so you have to wash some things as you go. So, 5 minutes? Probably not. But 10 is definitely likely! And that’s not that bad for a loaf of homemade bread! Obviously that does not include the 35 minutes of bake-time.

Most of the recipes call for 2 tbsp or so of honey or maple syrup. You can see below, I added none to mine and we didn’t miss it AT ALL. Now, it was obviously more on the savory end, but when Mo (my ever-loving ginny pig of a husband 🙂 ) took the first couple of bites, my first question was: “Would it be good with a little honey drizzled on top or is it too savory/herbaceous for that?” He raised his right eyebrow like he does when he’s REALLY serious and said, “Oh yeah! Honey would be awesome! It’s not too savory at all! This is great, babe! You did a really good job!” This is verbatim, folks. I wouldn’t trade him for the world!

The other recipes also call for 1/3 cup of coconut oil. You can see, I only used 2 tbsp and then added 3 tbsp of unsweetened apple sauce. Before you ask, no, I am NOT opposed to coconut oil or fat, obviously – look at all of my recipes! But my goal is to offer recipes to all of the missed population out there that just wants to eat in moderation – neither high fat nor low fat — neither high carb nor low carb. The people who want to eat as healthfully as they can, but also enjoy themselves and live their lives! Those who enjoy being in the kitchen and making fun and different things to eat week-in and week-out, that help fight inflammation AND taste REALLY good! So, if you fall into the high-fat-low-carb lifestyle, by all means, nix the applesauce and use 1/3 cup coconut oil.

Last but not least, this did not make what I would call “Sandwich Bread.” I mean, you COULD make a sandwich with it, but it would be an awfully tee-tiny sandwich. So, I think that is a little misleading. I suppose if you tried doubling the recipe, then maybe you could. If you try that, let me know! If I try it, I’ll let YOU know! 🙂 That said, while it did not make “Sandwich Bread” it made an AWESOME substitute for the average dinner roll.

I’ll also add – it freezes BEAUTIFULLY! So, this would be a great thing to make a few batches of ahead of time and freeze for the holidays! It does really well as the “day-old” bread Thanksgiving Dressing as well!

So – try this! Let me know how you like my version of this recipe!

“5 Minute” Grain Free Bread

Makes 12 slices

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup almond flour
  • ¾ cup arrowroot flour + more for dusting pan
  • ½ cup ground flax seeds
  • ½ tsp sea salt
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • Optional: 1 tsp fresh or 2 tsp dried herbs of choice
  • 2 tbsp coconut oil, solid
  • 3 tbsp unsweetened apple sauce
  • 4 cage free eggs
  • ¼ cup room temp, filtered water
  • 1 tsp apple cider vinegar

Directions:

  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
  • Spray a standard loaf pan with cooking spray and dust with a little arrowroot flour.
  • In a blender or food processor, combine all of the ingredients on low speed. Stop once to scrape down the sides and combine again.
  • Pour the batter into the loaf pan.
  • Bake for 35 minutes, until golden on top.
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Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
  2. Spray a standard loaf pan with cooking spray and dust with a little arrowroot flour.
  3. In a blender or food processor, combine all of the ingredients on low speed. Stop once to scrape down the sides and combine again.
  4. Pour the batter into the loaf pan.
  5. Bake for 35 minutes, until golden on top.
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Easy Roasted Tomato Soup

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I made this soup on a whim one night and now it is one of our favorites!

Life has been crazy lately! We’re doing a lot of work on our home that we just moved into in January and getting the opportunity to help lots of people and move forward with our coaching and nutrition practices. So, all really wonderful things, but still – BUSY!

I came home the other day from working with clients and realized I had NO clue what I was going to make for dinner – I needed something quick and easy and frankly, I wanted something meatless. Do you ever feel like, as an American (assuming you are one) that you don’t think twice about having protein in the form of meat or eggs with a meal? It’s the “American Way” right? Majority of us grew up with meat at every meal so as adults, it’s a given, right? After practicing a plant-based lifestyle for a couple of years from 2011-2013, I realized that it is not NECESSARY nor always a good/healthy thing to have meat at EVERY meal. The body/digestion needs a break sometimes. So, I’ve learned, and encourage you to do the same if you’re not already – really THINK about what you’re craving and in turn what your body NEEDS. Don’t eat something just because it’s the routine or because it’s what you feel you “should” do. I mean, yes, there are times for that – i.e. if you’re an athlete getting ready for a particular race or game, etc. But day-in-day-out – listen to your body as much as you can!

ALL of that being said – that is where this recipe was born. Quick, easy and meatless (and if you want it to be completely plant-based/vegan simply omit the cheese!) AND possibly MOST important – it tastes JUST LIKE PIZZA! That’s right – you heard me. PIZZA! And, it’s incredibly good for you! So… You’re welcome! 🙂

Hope you enjoy!

If you missed the demo of me making this on Facebook LIVE – click here to watch!

Easy Roasted Tomato Soup

Makes 7 cups

Ingredients:

  • 3lbs ripe Roma tomatoes (approx. 14)
  • 2 large shallots, halved
  • extra virgin olive oil
  • sea salt and black pepper
  • 1 tbsp garlic powder
  • 1 bunch fresh basil
  • 8-10 sprigs fresh thyme, leaves only
  • 1 tbsp tomato paste
  • 1 tsp coconut sugar
  • ¾ – 1 cup canned coconut milk (light or full fat)
  • ¼ cup + extra for garnish grated raw/unpasteurized parmesan or manchego (omit if vegan/plant-based)

Directions:

  • Preheat oven to 425 degrees F.
  • Cover a large rimmed baking sheet with foil and spray with cooking spray.
  • Halve tomatoes and place cut side up with the shallots on the baking sheet. Drizzle with olive oil, and a few pinches of sea salt and a pinch of black pepper.
  • Roast for 30 minutes, until just beginning to brown.
  • Place tomatoes in the blender with garlic powder, basil, thyme, tomato paste and coconut sugar. Puree until smooth.
  • Add the grated cheese and while the blender is running on a low speed, life the peep-hole at the top and pour in the coconut milk. Continue to puree until smooth well incorporated. Taste and adjust seasonings to taste.
  • Serve immediately topped with more cheese! Or, place in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 1 week or in the freezer for up to 2 months. Simply reheat in a sauce pan over medium heat.

 

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Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 425 degrees F.
  2. Cover a large rimmed baking sheet with foil and spray with cooking spray.
  3. Halve tomatoes and place cut side up with the shallots on the baking sheet. Drizzle with olive oil, and a few pinches of sea salt and a pinch of black pepper.
  4. Roast for 30 minutes, until just beginning to brown.
  5. Place tomatoes in the blender with garlic powder, basil, thyme, tomato paste and coconut sugar. Puree until smooth.
  6. Add the grated cheese and while the blender is running on a low speed, life the peep-hole at the top and pour in the coconut milk. Continue to puree until smooth well incorporated. Taste and adjust seasonings to taste.
  7. Serve immediately topped with more cheese! Or, place in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 1 week or in the freezer for up to 2 months. Simply reheat in a sauce pan over medium heat.
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Zucchini Goat Cheese Lasagna

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Prior to making this, please be sure to read the notes under the recipe for variations and substitutions.

***

It’s October and in Texas that means it’s either going to continue on in 90 degree weather or, we just might have one of those special years where we get some chilly weather for Halloween. Always a toss up. We woke up this October morning to 57 degrees and rain! For Texas, this is essentially Christmas morning. It was glorious! Now all I want is a Pumpkin Spice Latte!

I’ve been on a casserole kick for the last month or so – such an easy thing to throw together and make ahead and great fall recipes for the cooler weather I am crossing my fingers for!

Mo and I do not have children – just the sweetest, cutest, most loving French Bulldog in the whole world! But majority of our clients do have children, so on some level we understand how CRAZY life gets when school starts back up in the fall. We find that clients always struggle this time of year to maintain clean eating habits simply for the fact that time suddenly feels it is not their own anymore. One kid needs to be at football practice at 6am, another at school at 8am, a little one at Mothers Day Out at 9:30am and then pick up starts at 2pm and so on… Add to it games, dance lessons, etc. that happen in the evenings and I honestly don’t know how people do it day-in-day-out with frankly, more than one kiddo.

These casserole recipes were meant for YOU! For those who feel like they have no time to make themselves, much less overall health, a priority because of so many things going on and getting thrown at them. I hope you’ve found these to make life a little easier and a way to keep you and your family eating clean in spite of the chaos. It’s always interesting to me – when I eat poorly (i.e. fast food, packaged products, etc.) on a regular basis, sometimes out of what seems like pure necessity – my energy to do ALL of the things that I NEED to do – all of the things that have caused me to believe that fast food is the only option – is completely zapped. I don’t HAVE energy to do those things. And then I’m cranky and tired and that’s not good for anyone. 🙂

So, while I don’t have children, I do understand what it is to be incredibly busy with back-to-back “to-do’s” each day and I just want to encourage you to take good care of the body and mind that has to perform those tasks. I hope these recipes have helped make eating clean more feasible and flavorful in the midst of the chaos.

See? Isn’t Franklin the cutest EVER???

I made this lasagna recipe for the first time a couple of years ago. One of our clients brought us some ground venison and I was using it in everything! We love venison! I think we ate half of the lasagna the first night. 🙂 The leftovers were awesome and made life so easy for the next few days. It has SO much flavor! If you prefer, you can absolutely omit the meat in this recipe altogether and replace with additional mushrooms (see my notes below the recipe) and it will be just as yummy!

This recipe can easily be doubled and you could make two pans or several small – single or double servings sizes – to store in the freezer and heat up in the oven when needed for a quick dinner. It will freeze beautifully! Just skip the last step in the directions and cover in saran wrap and foil, place in the freezer for up to 6 months.

I hope this makes life a little easier for you and eating clean more feasible in the crazy times!

Zucchini Goat Cheese Lasagna

Serves 6-8

Ingredients:

  • 2 large zucchini
  • 1 tsp sea salt
  • 1lb ground venison, bison, beef, turkey, etc.***
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 medium green bell pepper, diced
  • 1 small yellow onion, diced
  • 3 medium portabella mushrooms, diced
  • 2-3 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1, 6oz can tomato paste
  • 1, 16oz can low sodium tomato sauce
  • ¼ cup red wine***
  • ¼ cup fresh basil, chopped
  • 2 tbsp fresh oregano, chopped
  • sea salt and black pepper, to taste
  • 1 cage free egg
  • 1, 6oz container spreadable goat cheese, brought to room temperature
  • 2 tbsp fresh parsley, chopped
  • 1, 6oz container goat cheese crumbles

Directions:

  • Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Spray a deep 9×13” casserole dish with cooking spray or rub well with olive oil and set aside.
  • Slice zucchini lengthwise into very thin slices or use a mandolin to do so. Lay all of the slices onto a paper towel (somewhere in the kitchen that it won’t take up prep space) in one layer and sprinkle lightly with sea salt; leave them be while you prep the sauce.
  • To start the sauce, heat olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Once warm, place the ground meat into the skillet and break up. Cook for approx. 7 minutes – until almost cooked through. Set aside.
  • In a separate sauté pan, add the green pepper and onion; cook until softened – approx. 5 minutes; add in mushrooms, garlic and a pinch of sea salt. Cook for another 2-3 minutes, stirring constantly so the garlic doesn’t burn.
  • Add the vegetable mixture to the meat and stir in tomato paste, tomato sauce, wine, basil, and oregano. Add a small amount of hot water or broth if sauce gets too thick. Bring to a light boil; reduce the heat and simmer sauce for approximately 20 minutes, stirring every few minutes.
  • While the sauce is cooking, whisk (or use a hand mixer) the egg, goat cheese, and parsley together in a bowl until completely combined. It should have the texture of a thick sauce.
  • To assemble the lasagna, spread ½ of the meat sauce into the bottom of casserole dish; then layer ½ of the zucchini slices, all of the goat cheese mixture, and then repeat with zucchini and then sauce again. Cover with foil.
  • Bake for 20-25 minutes. Remove the foil and sprinkle the top with the goat cheese crumbles. Raise the oven temperature to 425 degrees F and bake an additional 5-10 minutes. Let stand for 5-10 minutes before serving.

Notes:

  • You can make this vegetarian by omitting the ground meat and replacing with 3 more portabella mushrooms or 1 medium eggplant. You will simply have one pan for your sauce vs. starting with two.
  • You can replace the wine with either a beef stock or if keeping vegetarian, a vegetable stock.
  • If you are super pressed for time and need a pre-made sauce – I suggest The Vine – it is my very favorite! Super clean ingredients and very low in sodium! You will simply omit garlic through oregano in the list of above ingredients. Cook the vegetables and meat per above directions and add 1 jar of the sauce directly to the meat/vegetable mixture. Bring to a low boil, add sea salt and black pepper to taste and allow to simmer for 5-7 minutes. Follow remaining steps per above directions.
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Zucchini Goat Cheese Lasagna
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Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Spray a deep 9x13” casserole dish with cooking spray or rub well with olive oil and set aside.
  2. Slice zucchini lengthwise into very thin slices or use a mandolin to do so. Lay all of the slices onto a paper towel (somewhere in the kitchen that it won’t take up prep space) in one layer and sprinkle lightly with sea salt; leave them be while you prep the sauce.
  3. To start the sauce, heat olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Once warm, place the ground meat into the skillet and break up. Cook for approx. 7 minutes – until almost cooked through. Set aside.
  4. In a separate sauté pan, add the green pepper and onion; cook until softened – approx. 5 minutes; add in mushrooms, garlic and a pinch of sea salt. Cook for another 2-3 minutes, stirring constantly so the garlic doesn’t burn.
  5. Add the vegetable mixture to the meat and stir in tomato paste, tomato sauce, wine, basil, and oregano. Add a small amount of hot water or broth if sauce gets too thick. Bring to a light boil; reduce the heat and simmer sauce for approximately 20 minutes, stirring every few minutes.
  6. While the sauce is cooking, whisk (or use a hand mixer) the egg, goat cheese, and parsley together in a bowl until completely combined. It should have the texture of a thick sauce.
  7. To assemble the lasagna, spread ½ of the meat sauce into the bottom of casserole dish; then layer ½ of the zucchini slices, all of the goat cheese mixture, and then repeat with zucchini and then sauce again. Cover with foil.
  8. Bake for 20-25 minutes. Remove the foil and sprinkle the top with the goat cheese crumbles. Raise the oven temperature to 425 degrees F and bake an additional 5-10 minutes. Let stand for 5-10 minutes before serving.
Recipe Notes

You can make this vegetarian by omitting the ground meat and replacing with 3 more portabella mushrooms or 1 medium eggplant. You will simply have one pan for your sauce vs. starting with two.

You can replace the wine with either a beef stock or if keeping vegetarian, a vegetable stock.

If you are super pressed for time and need a pre-made sauce – I suggest The Vine – it is my very favorite! Super clean ingredients and very low in sodium! You will simply omit garlic through oregano in the list of above ingredients. Cook the vegetables and meat per above directions and add 1 jar of the sauce directly to the meat/vegetable mixture. Bring to a low boil, add sea salt and black pepper to taste and allow to simmer for 5-7 minutes. Follow remaining steps per above directions.

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Crispy Pumpkin Wedges with Yogurt Dipping Sauce

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Have I told you I love Pumpkin? Has that come up yet? 🙂 Well in case you forgot – I. LOVE. PUMPKIN.

I love all the things about pumpkin! The way the look, the way they taste, the fact that they are so versatile – they can be made sweet or savory. They are a “complex” carbohydrate – meaning that they do not spike blood sugar when consumed as compared to simple carbohydrates (i.e. items high in sugar), but they give the body good, clean fuel to burn. I love that they are the epitome of fall. The summers in Texas can be so “oppressive” sometimes – I always welcome fall with wide open arms! And, let’s face it – they are so fairytale-like right? Who sees a pumpkin and DOESN’T think of Cinderella? Ha! Ok, maybe the other way around for most – but for me? I see a pumpkin and start swooning – I really do.

As you can see, pumpkins bring about much joy for me – for many reasons. And while I have been accustomed to utilizing pumpkin in one predominant way: Pumpkin Muffins or Pumpkin Bread – which I grew up from as early in my childhood as I can recall!

This recipe is far from those and as beautiful as it looks (at least, I think so!) it is so easy to make. I made them as a side to dinner one night – it was a crazy day so I simply made my go-to Tuna Lettuce Tacos and served these beautiful wedges with it. But they would be the most wonderful passed hors d’oeuvres at your holiday party or any party! Or a fun, new addition to your Thanksgiving dinner!

There are MANY varieties of pumpkin. In fact, a pumpkin is actually a squash, if you didn’t already know that. So, you could, in theory use any variety of fall squash you’d like – just be sure to consult the Google 🙂 regarding the skin and if the squash you choose to use has an edible skin. For example, I would peel a butternut squash prior to making this recipe. But the Kabocha a a beautiful skin that is rich in fiber, vitamins and minerals and is perfectly fine and good for you to eat! Just be sure to wash well!

I used Chickpea Breadcrumbs in this recipe! When I came across them at Whole Foods I was SO excited! All packaged breadcrumbs have added oils and stabilizers and use wheat flour. It’s so annoying! And, we’ve officially run out of sourdough bread for the time being. If you can’t find these, no worries – the other two options work perfectly fine!

Due to the dairy used in the “crust” and if you choose to use a dairy-based yogurt for the dipping sauce, these are not Paleo. I do suggest you keep them Primal by using a raw/unpasteurized cheese and a grass fed Greek yogurt. If you want to keep them strict gluten free – definitely use the chickpea breadcrumbs or almond flour. And last but not least – if you want to keep them dairy free and go strict Paleo – feel free to nix the cheese in the topping/crust and double the amount of almond flour you use – in which case I would also double the amount of salt you use. And stick to a coconut milk based yogurt in lieu of dairy. Just be sure whether you use a coconut or dairy based yogurt, that it is PLAIN and not a vanilla flavor or sweetened at all!

Crispy Pumpkin Wedges with Yogurt Dipping Sauce

Serves 6-8

Ingredients:

…for the pumpkin:

  • 1, approx. 2lb kabocha squash/pumpkin, skin on
  • ¾ – 1 cup grated raw parmesan or manchego
  • ¼ cup sourdough or chickpea “bread” crumbs or almond flour
  • 2 tbsp finely chopped parsley or cilantro
  • ½ tsp dried thyme or 2 tsp finely chopped fresh thyme
  • 1 large lemon, zest only
  • dash or two of cayenne pepper
  • olive or avocado oil for brushing the pumpkin
  • sea salt

…for the yogurt dipping sauce:

  • ¾ cup plain Greek dairy or coconut yogurt
  • 2 tbsp chopped dill
  • sea salt and black pepper

Instructions:

  • Preheat oven to 375 degrees F and line a large baking sheet with parchment paper and spray with cooking spray. Set aside.
  • In a small bowl, place the yogurt with the dill and a pinch of sea salt and pepper – whish well to combine. Place in the fridge until ready to serve.
  • Cut the pumpkin into approx. ½-inch-thick slices and lay them flat, cut-side down, on the baking sheet.
  • In a medium bowl, mix the cheese, breadcrumbs, parsley/cilantro, thyme, half of the lemon zest, a pinch of sea salt and cayenne pepper.
  • Brush the pumpkin generously with olive oil and sprinkle with the crust mix, making sure the slices are covered with a thick coating. Gently pat the mix down a little.
  • Place the pan in the oven and roast for 20-25 minutes, or until the pumpkin is tender – start checking at 20 minutes: stick a small knife in one wedge to make sure it has softened and is cooked through. If the topping starts to darken too much during cooking, cover loosely with foil.
  • Serve the wedges warm, sprinkled with the remaining lemon zest, with the yogurt mixture on the side.
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Crispy Pumpkin Wedges with Yogurt Dipping Sauce
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees F and line a large baking sheet with parchment paper and spray with cooking spray. Set aside.
  2. In a small bowl, place the yogurt with the dill and a pinch of sea salt and pepper – whish well to combine. Place in the fridge until ready to serve.
  3. Cut the pumpkin into approx. ½-inch-thick slices and lay them flat, cut-side down, on the baking sheet.
  4. In a medium bowl, mix the cheese, breadcrumbs, parsley/cilantro, thyme, half of the lemon zest, a pinch of sea salt and cayenne pepper.
  5. Brush the pumpkin generously with olive oil and sprinkle with the crust mix, making sure the slices are covered with a thick coating. Gently pat the mix down a little.
  6. Place the pan in the oven and roast for 20-25 minutes, or until the pumpkin is tender – start checking at 20 minutes: stick a small knife in one wedge to make sure it has softened and is cooked through. If the topping starts to darken too much during cooking, cover loosely with foil.
  7. Serve the wedges warm, sprinkled with the remaining lemon zest, with the yogurt mixture on the side.
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Smoky Paleo Bowl

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Believe it or not, we don’t always eat beautifully plated meals that take an hour to prep and an hour to cook. We are so stinkin busy. Good busy. But busy. In my perfect world, I would menu plan daily. But, while some may think it is – that is not my life. I really don’t know how many do it with little ones. It seems that most of my days are swamped minute-to-minute. Not complaining – I’m honestly not sure I would have it any other way.

That said, if I called Mo and told him I couldn’t cook one night or for a whole week – he is the type of man who, while he would much prefer I cook, would kindly understand and offer to pick something up. Ultimately though – we really don’t like to eat out. I mean, we certainly enjoy it from time to time on special occasions, or to try a new restaurant. But on the whole, we just feel better when we eat at home. So, I really try hard to make it a priority.

Not every day is minute-to-minute but man, I definitely had one of those days earlier this week – I had my own workout at 6am, showered and out the door by 8am to start with my one-on-one Personal Training clients – a break at noon for a quick Almond Milk Latte (my favorite!) and some Tuna Salad for lunch, a talk for my dear friends Nutrition class at El Centro, on to a 2:45pm meeting, followed by a 3:45pm appointment and then I still had to figure out what we were going to have for dinner that night. I was tired, it was getting chilly outside (FINALLY!!! I swear, Texas has the most confused weather!) and I wanted something that tasted like I’d been making it all day – you know, comforting and warm but I also didn’t want anything heavy. Welcome to the mind of a woman! So complicated! 😉 But hey! At least we know what we want! So, after all of this discussion in my head, I landed on a bowl and just decided to fill it will all the things that sounded good. And I give you the birth of my Smoky Paleo Bowl.

I put ground bison in ours – if Mo were not going to be home, I probably would have left that out and gone meatless. But, I live with a half-caveman, so bison it was! Feel free to use any protein you’d like or leave it out altogether – it will be just as de-lish!

This bowl comes together in 30 minutes or less and tastes like you’ve been working on it for a few hours. It is light but comforting and definitely filling!

I hope you enjoy!

Smoky Paleo Bowl

Serves 2-4

Ingredients:

  • 3 bags pre-riced cauliflower
  • olive or avocado oil
  • sea salt
  • 1 ½ tbsp smoked paprika
  • 1 tsp ground coriander
  • 1 tsp ground turmeric, divided
  • 1 orange bell pepper, julienned
  • 1 red bell pepper, julienned
  • 3 zucchini, halved lengthwise and thinly sliced
  • 1 yellow squash, halved lengthwise and thinly sliced
  • 7 baby portabella mushrooms, thinly sliced
  • ¾ – 1lb ground protein of choice
  • 1 tbsp chili powder
  • 2 tsp ground cumin
  • ¼ tsp ground cinnamon
  • pinch of dried oregano
  • black pepper
  • 2-3 large handfuls fresh, baby spinach, arugula or baby kale
  • optional garnishes: crumbled goat cheese, cilantro, thinly sliced jalapeno or fresno pepper, scallion or chives…

Directions:

  • Preheat oven to 425 degrees F and line a large baking sheet with foil or parchment paper, spray with a little cooking spray and pour cauliflower rice onto the pan and spread out as evenly as possible. Drizzle with a little olive or avocado oil, a few pinches of sea salt, smoked paprika, coriander and ½ tsp turmeric. Toss well to combine. Place in the oven to roast for 10 minutes; toss and then turn your oven off and leave the “rice” in the oven until ready to serve.
  • While the cauliflower is roasting, heat a large skillet over medium heat. Once hot, add in bell peppers with a pinch of sea salt. Cook, stirring occasionally, until softened – approx. 5 minutes. Add in zucchini, squash and mushrooms, stir to combine, cover and steam for 5 minutes.
  • Uncover and push the vegetables to the sides of the skillet and add in the ground protein to the center of the pan. Break the protein up and cook, stirring occasionally, until protein is cooked through – approx. 5 minutes. Season mixture with chili powder, cumin, cinnamon, oregano, black pepper and sea salt to taste. Toss well to combine.
  • Add greens to the skillet and mix to combine. Cook until the spinach has just wilted, approx. 2-3 minutes.
  • To serve, start with some of the cauliflower rice in a bowl and top with protein/vegetable mixture. Garnish with options above, if you’d like. Enjoy!

 

 

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Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 425 degrees F and line a large baking sheet with foil or parchment paper, spray with a little cooking spray and pour cauliflower rice onto the pan and spread out as evenly as possible. Drizzle with a little olive or avocado oil, a few pinches of sea salt, smoked paprika, coriander and ½ tsp turmeric. Toss well to combine. Place in the oven to roast for 10 minutes; toss and then turn your oven off and leave the “rice” in the oven until ready to serve.
  2. While the cauliflower is roasting, heat a large skillet over medium heat. Once hot, add in bell peppers with a pinch of sea salt. Cook, stirring occasionally, until softened – approx. 5 minutes. Add in zucchini, squash and mushrooms, stir to combine, cover and steam for 5 minutes.
  3. Uncover and push the vegetables to the sides of the skillet and add in the ground protein to the center of the pan. Break the protein up and cook, stirring occasionally, until protein is cooked through – approx. 5 minutes. Season mixture with chili powder, cumin, cinnamon, oregano, black pepper and sea salt to taste. Toss well to combine.
  4. Add greens to the skillet and mix to combine. Cook until the spinach has just wilted, approx. 2-3 minutes.
  5. To serve, start with some of the cauliflower rice in a bowl and top with protein/vegetable mixture. Garnish with options above, if you’d like. Enjoy!
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Paleo Roasted Sweet Potato Casserole

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Thanksgiving would not be Thanksgiving if I did not get to have sweet potatoes.

I am aware that there is this category of people out there who could take or leave sweet potatoes on the Thanksgiving table. And you are the people I just, frankly, do not understand. I love you. No judgement. But, I don’t get you.

My clean eating habits began at an early age for several reasons, of which I will not go into detail except for one – my mother has always been health conscious. I was raised during the “Fat Free Craze” and the “Wheat is better than white craze!” Ha! Funny to even think about now that I understand all of the research that has come out against both of those! So we had a lot of wheat bread and fat free mayo. Unfortunately that meant eating a lot of sugar, which I hope I am mitigating the effects of now. But my mom was always trying to make recipes healthier. Back in the day, she would substitute margarine for butter and would eat bread a million times before she would even look at an avocado! I’m literally laughing to myself as I type this and think through how funny that sounds… I can’t even imagine buying margarine. But 30 years ago, that was considered the healthiest alternative to fat. Crazy.

So I guess this is where I get my experimenting with recipes fetish! But now, thankfully, with different guidelines!

All of that to say – my mom came up with a recipe for sweet potato casserole that was heavy on sugar and she would use a little bit of margarine – never butter, etc. I always loved it growing up but now? No way I could eat it. My taste-buds would FLIP from all of the sugar. I think I’d go into a coma.

You have to remember that sweet potatoes are already sweet. I get that it’s Thanksgiving and it’s a time for some indulging, but no reason to douse something in additional sugar – a little? Sure! But, I suggest balancing it with some healthy fats like coconut oil, ghee butter or a good grass-fed butter. This will help keep your blood sugar stable so that you don’t get a crazy spike and 1- think you’re actually still hungry after eating a whole plate of Thanksgiving goodness and 2- crash in a couple of hours.

Sweet Potato Casserole is typically the sweetest thing on the table at Thanksgiving. I mean, aside from actual desserts. But, if you could stave off that blood sugar spike and make this a well balanced dish, wouldn’t it be nice to be kind to your body today while not feeling like you’ve missed out on ANYthing?

Hope you enjoy this re-make of my mom’s Roasted Sweet Potato Casserole!

Paleo Roasted Sweet Potato Casserole

Serves 6-8

Ingredients:

  • 4 medium sweet potatoes
  • 4 tbsp coconut oil or grass fed butter, melted
  • 2 tsp ground cinnamon
  • ¼ cup coconut sugar
  • 1 tsp sea salt
  • 1/3 cup chopped pecans (sprouted, if possible)

Directions:

  • Preheat oven to 400 degrees F and wrap each sweet potato in foil. Place potatoes in the oven on the top or middle rack and bake for 60-75 minutes. Pull out of the oven and let cool for 10-15 minutes. They won’t be fully cooked, but that’s okay.
  • While the potatoes are cooling, in a small bowl, whisk the melted coconut oil or butter, cinnamon, coconut sugar and sea salt until well combined. Set aside.
  • Unwrap the potatoes and discard the foil. With a pairing knife, gently score the skin of the potatoes and then carefully peel the skin off of each one. Once peeled, dice into approx. 2-inch chunks.
  • Spray a large casserole dish with coconut oil cooking spray (or rub down with a little coconut oil or butter) and place the diced sweet potatoes into the dish. Drizzle the coconut sugar and cinnamon mixture over the top and chopped pecans, gently toss to combine and cover with foil.
  • If serving immediately – place back in the oven for 15 minutes, covered and then another 5-10 minutes, uncovered, until slightly browned on top.
  • If making ahead, place in the fridge until ready to serve and increase cook times above by 10 minutes each.

 

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Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees F and wrap each sweet potato in foil. Place potatoes in the oven on the top or middle rack and bake for 60-75 minutes. Pull out of the oven and let cool for 10-15 minutes. They won’t be fully cooked, but that’s okay.
  2. While the potatoes are cooling, in a small bowl, whisk the melted coconut oil or butter, cinnamon, coconut sugar and sea salt until well combined. Set aside.
  3. Unwrap the potatoes and discard the foil. With a pairing knife, gently score the skin of the potatoes and then carefully peel the skin off of each one. Once peeled, dice into approx. 2-inch chunks.
  4. Spray a large casserole dish with coconut oil cooking spray (or rub down with a little coconut oil or butter) and place the diced sweet potatoes into the dish. Drizzle the coconut sugar and cinnamon mixture over the top and chopped pecans, gently toss to combine and cover with foil.
  5. If serving immediately – place back in the oven for 15 minutes, covered and then another 5-10 minutes, uncovered, until slightly browned on top.
  6. If making ahead, place in the fridge until ready to serve and increase cook times above by 10 minutes each.
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