Entrees

Maple & Bourbon Sweet Potato Soup

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Thanksgiving is only 11-days away and I'm busting at the seams with joy and excitement! I absolutely LOVE this time of year! I love the anticipation of what each day holds. Yesterday, as I walked with my husband (Mike), I spent the majority of the time rambling about the different possibilities for Thanksgiving and how special this day was going to be. Almost as if I was willing it to be!  Of course I had to confirm that watching the Macy's Day Parade and reading the Black Friday ads were first on the agenda! I love an excuse to make a fuse, to throw a party, to gather with family and friends, the justification to showering others with gifts and the wonderful joy in the air of closing out another year with the hope and expectations of dreams to come in the looming year ahead! Its AMAZING!!!! It feels... HOPEFUL because I find I am more reflective this time of year than any other which allows me the chance to acknowledge the purposeful gifts and mighty ways God has shown up and showed off in my life!

Ok.... so I will stop digressing and get back to my point in writing this post.... THIS SOUP. AHHHHMAZING!  (and full of amazing nutrients as well!) If you really want to get creative this Thanksgiving and take the pressure off of providing a labor intensive meal... join me in my Laid-Back GREATFUL Holiday Extravaganza movement!!! I'm going rogue this year and getting away from traditional, and embracing more free time to enjoy the loved ones in my life!!!

I'll be serving up this amazing Maple & Bourbon Sweet Potato Soup alongside a fresh Cranberry & Spinach Salad with Turkey & Brie Crostini. Nutritious. Delicious. And Easy!!!

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Maple & Bourbon Sweet Potato Soup                                                         (Recipe Inspired by Half Baked Harvest)

INGREDIENTS:

  • 4 medium Sweet Potatoes
  • 1/2 cup Pure Maple Syrup
  • 2 Cinnamon Sticks
  • 2 1/2 cups Low-Sodium Vegetable Broth
  • 1 cup Apple Cider
  • 1 tablespoon Fresh Thyme, chopped
  • 1/4 teaspoon Nutmeg
  • Pinch of cayenne (to your taste)
  • Salt + Pepper, to your taste
  • 2 Tablespoons Bourbon (optional)
  • 1 can full-fat coconut milk (I recommend Trader Joe’s Coconut Cream)
  • 1/2 cup sharp cheddar cheese, shredded (optional)
  • 2 Tablespoons Coconut Oil

DIRECTIONS:

Preheat your oven to 400 degrees F. Wrap sweet potatoes in foil and bake for 1 hour or until soft and tender. When the sweet potatoes are cooked, slice them in half and allow to cool.

Meanwhile, add the maple syrup and cinnamon sticks to a large soup pot, bring to a boil and then reduce the heat to a simmer and allow to cook for 10-15 minutes. You want the maple syrup to thicken and reduce to a syrup like the consistency of honey.

Once the sweet potatoes are cool enough to handle, peel away the skins and add the orange flesh to the bowl of a food processor or high powered blender. Add 1 cup of broth and puree until smooth. Slowly stir the sweet potato mixture into the thickened maple syrup. Add the remaining 1 1/2 cups broth, the apple cider, thyme, nutmeg, cayenne and a pinch of salt + pepper. Cook over medium heat until warmed through, about 10 minutes. Stir in the bourbon (if using) and cream. Continue to cook another 5 minutes and then add the cheese + butter, cook until the cheese is melted and the soup is silky smooth. If the soup seems too thick, add more broth to thin. Keep over low heat until ready to serve.

Whether you are planning a traditional menu or creating new menu, I would love to hear what you are planning on having for Thanksgiving! Regardless of your main entrée, make sure you serve it up with plenty of gratitude for the beautiful life that you lead!!!!

Salmon Meatballs & Avocado Cream Zucchini Noodles

Meatballs: 

  • 1 lb. skinless salmon, cut into chunks
  • ½ medium onion, grated or chopped 
  • 1/4 cup Whole Wheat Panko Breadcrumbs
  • 3 Tbsp Minced Cilantro
  • 1 Egg White
  • 2 Garlic Cloves, minced
  • ¾ tsp Salt
  • ½ tsp Ground Pepper
  • ½ tsp Paprika
  • ½ tsp Ground Oregano
  • 8oz Feta Cheese 

Sauce:

  • 1 Avocado, skin & seed removed
  • 3 Tbsp Plain Greek yogurt
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • ½ Lime, juiced
  • 5 Tbsp water
  • 1 tsp Chili Powder
  • 1/2 tsp salt, or to taste
  • 1 tsp ground pepper

Instructions

For Meatballs: Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Coat a large baking sheet with cooking spray.

Place the salmon in the bowl of a food processor. Pulse until finely chopped. Transfer to a large bowl.

To the salmon, add onion, panko breadcrumbs, cilantro, egg white, garlic, salt, pepper, paprika and oregano. Stir to combine.

Form meatballs by rolling between the palms of your hands. Each meatball is between 2-3 Tbsp of salmon mixture. Place the meatballs on the prepared baking sheet, spacing evenly.

Bake until the meatballs are firm to the touch and cooked through, 15 -20 minutes.

Serve the meatballs over zucchini noodles tossed in with the avocado cream sauce and garnish with feta cheese! 

For Sauce: In the bowl of a food processor or blender, combine the avocado, greek yogurt, garlic, lime juice, water, chile powder, salt and pepper. Blend until smooth.

Recipe Originally From: Cookin Canuck

Honey Dijon Pretzel Crusted Chicken

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Honey Dijon Pretzel Crusted Chicken

Recipe Inspired By: Halfbaked Harvest

Ingredients:

Honey Dijon Mustard Pretzel Crusted Chicken

  • 1 lb boneless skinless chicken breast (butterflied) or chicken cutlets
  • 2 egg whites
  • 1/4 cup Dijon Mustard
  • 1 Tablespoon Honey
  • 1 teaspoon seasoned salt
  • 1 1/4 cups crushed pretzel crisp
  • 1/2 cup walnuts, crushed

Honey Dijon Mustard Dressing

  • ½ cup Dijon Mustard
  • ½ cup Honey
  • ½ cup Olive Oil
  • 1 Lime, juiced
  • 1 teaspoon Smoked Paprika
  • 2 teaspoon Pepper

Strawberry Avocado Basil Salsa

  • 2 cups fresh Strawberries, diced
  • 1 Avocado, pitted + diced
  • 1 small Jalapeno, seeded+ chopped
  • 1/2 cup Fresh Basil, chopped
  • juice of 1 lime

Preparations:

  • Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Prepare your baking sheet by lining with foil and spraying with cooking spray.
  • In a large bowl, combine the honey, mustard, egg whites and seasoned salt, whisk well. Toss the chicken in the honey mustard wash and set aside. The longer you can allow it to marinate the better. In a shallow bowl, combine the crushed pretzels and walnuts.
  • Remove one piece of chicken at a time from the mustard wash. Place chicken in the pretzels crumbs and then use your fingers to press the pretzels mixture onto the chicken.  Place on the prepared baking sheet and repeat with remaining chicken.  Bake in the oven for about 20-28 minutes or until chicken is cooked through.
  • While the chicken cooks combine all the ingredients for the dressing in a small bowl. Whisk well and adjust seasoning to taste.
  • For salsa, combine the strawberries, avocado, jalapeno, basil and lime juice in a bowl. Gently toss and season with salt if desired. Store in the fridge.
  • Serve chicken warm with a drizzle of honey Dijon mustard dressing and garnished with strawberry salsa!

Smoked Salmon & Farro Salad 

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INGREDIENTS

  • 1 cup uncooked Farro
  • 2 diced Fuji apples
  • 1/2 cup diced red onion 
  • 1/2 cup chopped walnuts
  • 4 ounces smoked salmon, cut into 1-inch pieces 
  • 2 medium celery stalks, thinly sliced 
  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil 
  • 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice 
  • 1 tablespoon Dijon mustard 
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt 
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper

PREPARATION

Place farro in a medium saucepan. Cover Farro with water to 2 cups water; bring to a boil. Reduce heat, and cook, uncovered, 30-35 min or until tender. 

Combine cooked Farro, diced apples, and next 4 ingredients (through celery) in a large bowl. Combine oil and remaining ingredients in a small bowl, stirring with a whisk. Drizzle dressing over Farro mixture; toss to coat.

Sweet Potato & Black Bean Burrito

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SWEET POTATO & BLACK BEAN BURRITO

Makes 8 Servings

Recipe Inspired by Oh She Glows

Sweet Potatoes:

  • 3 medium Sweet Potatoes, Diced
  • 1 Tbsp Chili Powder
  • ½ Tbsp Ground Cumin
  • Garlic Power
  • Sea Salt, to taste
  • Ground Black Pepper, to taste

Rice & Bean Mixture:

  • 1.5 cups Uncooked Short Grain Brown Rice
  • 1-2 tsp olive oil
  • 1 cup Yellow Onion, chopped
  • 2 Garlic Cloves, minced
  • 2-3 Red Bell Pepper, chopped
  • Sea Salt to taste
  • 1 Tbsp Ground Cumin, or to taste
  • ¼ tsp Cayenne Pepper, or to taste
  • 2, 15-oz can Black Beans, drained and rinse
  • 4 Sprouted Grains Tortilla Wrap
  • Baby Spinach Leaves
  • Avocado or Guacamole
  • Sriracha Sauce (optional)

DIRECTIONS:

  1. Preheat oven to 425F and line a large glass dish with tinfoil. Drizzle olive oil on potatoes and toss with salt, pepper, chili powder & cumin. Roast sweet potatoes for 35-40 mins. or until tender.
  2. Cook brown rice in 3 cups water with sea salt. Boil for 20-25 minutes or until rice has absorbed liquid.
  3. In a large skillet over medium-low heat, add oil, onion, and minced garlic. Sauté for about 5 minutes, stirring frequently. Now add in salt and seasonings and stir well.
  4. Add chopped red pepper, black beans, and cooked rice and sauté for another 10 minutes on low.
  5. When sweet potatoes are tender remove from oven and cool slightly. Slightly mash sweet potatoes with a fork. Add 1.5 cups of the cooked potatoes to the skillet and stir well.
  6. Add rice & bean filling to tortilla along with desired toppings. Wrap and serve.

Leftovers can be reheated and served as topper of spinach salad, stuffed in baked potato, served as tacos, or as a base for grilled flank steak! 

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JALAPEÑO & BLACK BEAN SPAGHETTI SQUASH BOATS

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JALAPEÑO & BLACK BEAN SPAGHETTI SQUASH BOATS

(Makes 4 Meals)

Ingredients:

  • 2 Spaghetti Squash
  • Extra Virgin Olive Oil
  • 1 Tablespoon coconut oil
  • 1 Yellow onion, chopped
  • 2 Cloves Garlic, minced
  • 5 cups Fresh Baby Spinach
  • 2 cans (14.5 oz) Roasted Tomatoes with Green Chiles
  • 2 cans Black Beans 
  • 2 Tbsp Ground Cumin
  • 1/2 Tbsp Sea Salt
  • Ground Black Pepper
  • 4 ounces Goat Cheese, crumbled
  • Sliced Jalapeño (optional, garnish) 

Directions:

Preheat the oven to 400F and line baking sheet with foil or parchment paper. Carefully cut the spaghetti squash in half, scoop out the seeds in the center and discard. Brush sides with EVOO + Sea Salt + Pepper. Place the squash halves face-down on the lined baking sheet. Bake for 45-55 minutes, or until the light brown spots begin to appear on the skin of the squash. Remove from the oven and set aside to cool slightly.

While the squash is cooking, pour the 2 cans of roasted tomatoes and green chiles (including the liquid) into a blender and add in the ground cumin and salt. Blend until smooth and set aside.

Melt the coconut oil in a large pot over medium heat and sauté the onion until the onion is tender. Add in the garlic and spinach, and stir until the spinach is wilted. Add black beans and stir.

Use a fork to scrape the cooked spaghetti squash flesh into pot and pour the enchilada sauce over the top. Stir well until everything is heated through, season to taste, and then divide the spaghetti squash mixture between the shells of the spaghetti squash arranged cut-side-up on a baking sheet.

Top each serving with crumbled goat cheese, and place in over to heat through for 5-6 minutes. Serve Warm!!

Recipe Inspired by Detoxinista

Moroccan Chickpea, Carrot, and Spiced Quinoa Salad

Tired of packing a boring sandwich for lunch?

Want to boost your antioxidant level by increasing your vegetable intake?

Want to wake up your taste buds with fresh, exotic flavors?

This quick and easy salad is perfect for you!

Don’t settle for a sandwich, when you can re-energize your body mid-day with this nutrient dense, flavorful dish!

You are worth it!

Moroccan Chickpea, Carrot, and Spiced Quinoa Salad

Yields: 4-5 Servings

Recipe Inspired ByHappy Hearted Kitchen

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Spiced Quinoa

  • 1 cup Tri-Colored Quinoa
  • 1 ½ cup Salted water
  • 1 teaspoon Ground Cumin
  • 1 teaspoon Ground Paprika
  • 1 teaspoon Coriander
  •  1 ½ teaspoon Ground Fennel Seeds
  • 1 Tbsp Cinnamon

Roasted Chickpeas:

  • 2 cans Organic Chickpeas, drained and rinsed; Pat dry
  • 1/2 Tbsp Coriander
  • 1 Tbsp Dried Parsley
  • 1 Tbsp Ground Paprika
  • 1 Tbsp Ground Cumin
  • 1 Tbsp Extra Virgin Olive Oil
  • Sea Salt and Ground Black Pepper

Salad

  • 8 Medium Carrots
  • 3 tablespoons Extra Virgin Olive Oil
  • Juice of one Lemon
  • 1 teaspoon Local Honey
  • ¼ cup Raisins or Currants
  • 1/2 cup Raw Almonds, Sliced or Chopped
  • 2 Tbsp Dried Parsley
  • 1 Tbsp Coriander

Directions:

  1. Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees. Toss chickpeas with spices. Place on a baking sheet in a single layer and roast in the oven for 25 – 30 minutes, or until chickpeas are slightly brown and crunchy. Toss the chickpeas halfway through cooking time to evenly cook.
  2. Rinse the quinoa under cold water. Add rinsed quinoa and water to a pot and season with salt. Add in spices. Cover and simmer for 12 minutes, then remove from heat and let sit with the lid on for another 5 minutes.
  3. While the quinoa is cooking, slice carrots into ribbons.  Drizzle with olive oil, honey and lemon juice and set aside.
  4. Fluff the quinoa with a fork and add to the carrots. Mix well.  Add the remaining ingredients and mix well.  Serve immediately or refrigerate.

If you are taking this salad for lunch, go ahead and portion into individual servings so the dish is ready to go when you are!

Creamy Tomato Tortellini Soup

Need a quick weeknight dinner idea?

NutriFocusRD has got your answer!

This creamy, nutritious soup hits the spot!  It is a guaranteed family favorite!!

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Creamy Tomato & Tortellini Soup:

Ingredients:

  • 1 Tbsp Extra Virgin Olive Oil (EVOO)
  • ½ lb. Italian Sausage
  • 1 Diced White Onion
  • 24oz Organic Marinara Sauce
  • 8oz Reduced Fat Cream Cheese
  • 32oz Reduced Sodium Chicken or Vegetable Broth
  • 8oz Diced Bella Mushrooms
  • 4-5 cups Fresh Organic Baby Spinach
  • 16-20oz Frozen or Refrigerated Whole Wheat Cheese Tortellini
  • ½ cup Shredded Parmesan Cheese
  • French Bread or Rosemary Olive Oil Bread (Costco)

Directions:

  1. In a stockpot, add EVOO, diced onion, and Italian sausage. Cook until sausage is brown.
  2. Add marinara sauce into the meat mixture and stir well.
  3. Using a whisk, stir in cream cheese until blended well. Once blended, add chicken broth and bring to a boil for 10 minutes.
  4. Add mushrooms, baby spinach, and cheese tortellini to broth and combine well. Allow to simmer for 7-9 minutes.
  5. Serve soup warm, topped with 1-2 Tbsp shredded parmesan cheese, and with a warm, crusty French bread for dipping! Enjoy!!!
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Gambling on Meat? Grass-Fed or Grain-Fed?

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Confused by the hype of grass-fed versus grain-fed beef? Is grass-fed beef really worth the extra expense?

Today NutriFocus highlights 4 good reasons to consider choosing grass-fed beef....

  1. Grass-fed beef is much higher in nutrient levels. Grass-fed beef tends to be leaner, and have higher levels of vitamins, minerals such as calcium, magnesium, potassium, and beta carotene.  Grass-fed beef has shown to have 4x the levels of vitamin E and 6x the levels of Omega-3 (compared to grain fed beef) which helps reduce the risk of arthritis, obesity, insulin resistance, allergies and autoimmune diseases.  It is also a good source of CLA which is a healthy fat that protects against cancer.
  2. Grass-fed beef is better for the animals. Supports a natural and humane approach to sustainable farming BC the animals are allowed to roam free on the land.
  3. Supports local farming science. Raising livestock on pasture requires knowledge and skill -- it is a true science!!
  4. Grass-fed animals are healthy and drug-free. Cows fed grain can suffer digestive problems because grain is not their natural diet and is not digested properly. This can lead to the use of  antibiotics and other medications which ultimately pollutes our food supply and environment.

This NutriFocusRD original recipe won me major points with my husband so I could not resist sharing this easy, slow-cooker meal with my NutriFocus Family!!!  This chili is super easy, full of fiber, powered with protein, and packed full with vegetables!  It is perfect for a weeknight dinner or to serve at your next tailgating party!! Best news is... it is even better the next day!!!  Hope you guys enjoy!!

Organic Beef and 3-Bean Chili:

Ingredients:

  • 1 pound organic, grass-fed ground beef
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  • 1 Red Onion, Diced
  • 3 Celery Stalks, Diced
  • 1 Green Bell Pepper, Seeded and Diced
  • 2 Garlic Cloves, Minced
  • 1 (29oz) can Tomato Puree
  • 1 (15oz) can Red Kidney Beans, Drained
  • 1 (15oz) can Cannellini Beans, with Liquid
  • 1 (15oz) can Chickpeas, Drained
  • 2 Tbsp Chili Powder
  • 1 Tbsp Ground Cumin (optional)
  • ½ Tbsp Smoked Paprika (optional)
  • 2 tsp Dried Parsley
  • 1 tsp Garlic Salt
  • 1 Tbsp Dried Oregano
  • 1 Tbsp Dried Basil
  • 1 Tbsp Ground Black Pepper
  • 1 Tbsp Sriracha Sauce

Directions:

Place ground beef in a skillet over medium heat. Season with 1 Tbsp Chili Powder, 1 Tbsp Cumin, ½ Tbsp Smoked Paprika, 1 tsp Garlic Salt, and Ground Black Pepper. Cook until evenly brown. Drain remaining liquid.

Place the beef in your slow-cooker. Add in onion, celery, green bell pepper, garlic, tomato puree, drained kidney beans, drained chickpeas, and cannellini beans with liquid. Season mixture with 1 Tbsp chili powder, dried parsley, garlic salt, dried basil, oregano, black pepper and sriracha sauce. Stir mixture well. Cover and cook on low for 8-hours!

Garnish with shredded parmesan cheese and low-fat sour cream and serve alongside sweet cornbread muffins!

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To Locate Local Grass-Fed Farms, Check Out the Eat Wild Website for Farms Across the Southeast!

Wild-Caught Pesto Cod with Tomato & Olive Relish - Dinner in Less Than 15 Min!

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Time.

It seems to be the most common and prevalent barrier between people eating a nutrient-dense diet and fueling their body to do the activities that are taking up so much time!

How many times have you justified going through the drive-thru window b/c of no time? How many times have you skipped a meal due to a “lack of time”? How many times have you microwaved an unappetizing tv dinner due to a time crunch?  

Food Myth: “To eat “healthy” or nutrient dense means I must spend a lot of time in the kitchen cooking, dirty up a lot of dishes, and eat bland foods.”

NutriFocusRD has news for you!!

THAT IS A LIE!!!!! And I can prove it!!!!

Last week, I started with fresh, nutrient-packed ingredients and had dinner on the table on 14min and 23 seconds flat! Yes, I timed it and proud of it!!! I wanted to see exactly how long it would take to prepare and serve a balanced, tasty meal. And I was extremely surprised!!!

I proudly served up Wild-Caught Pesto Cod topped with a Tomato & Olive Relish on a Bed of Wilted Organic Spinach. I finished off the dish by pairing it with warm slices of Rosemary & Sea Salt French Baguette!

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So no more excuses… It’s time to make health our priority so we can enjoy our loved ones, hobbies, and activities to the fullest!!!! I’ve shared the recipe below!!! Bon Appetite!

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 Wild-Caught Pesto Cod Served with Tomato & Olive Relish:

Ingredients:

  • 4 Wild-Caught Cod Filets (Frozen – Allow to Thaw Before Cooking) (Can also use tilapia, mahi-mahi or other white flaky fish)
  • 4 Tbsp Shredded Parmesan Cheese
  • Cooking Spray
  • 4 Tbsp Homemade or Store Bought Pesto
  • 1-2 Small to Medium Sized Tomatoes
  • 8 Kalamata Olives, Pitted & Sliced
  • Garlic Salt
  • Ground Black Pepper
  • Extra Virgin Olive Oil (EVOO)
  • French Baguette
  • Sea Salt
  • Dried Rosemary
  • Organic Baby Spinach or Frozen Spinach Leaves

Directions:

Pre-Heat Oven to 425 Degrees.

Pat fish dry and place on a baking pan covered in cooking spray. Top each cod filet with 1 Tbsp shredded parmesan cheese. Place in oven to cook for 8-10 minutes.

While fish cooks, prepare relish, bread, and spinach. For relish, dice tomatoes and place in small bowl. Add Kalamata olive slices to the tomatoes. Season with garlic salt and pepper to taste. Toss with EVOO and sit to the side.

For bread, slice French baguette into single servings. Drizzle each slice with EVOO and sprinkle with sea salt and dried rosemary. Place in heated oven with fish for 2-3 minutes. Meanwhile, sauté spinach on the stovetop in a skillet over medium high heat with a drizzle of EVOO. If you purchase frozen spinach, place in microwave.

When fish is done cooking, top each filet with 1 Tbsp pesto. Place each pesto cod filet on a bed of wilted spinach and garnish with Tomato Olive Relish. Serve the Rosemary & Sea Salt French Baguette on the side! Delish!    

Salsa Verde Mexican Potato Hash

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Mexican Potato Hash:

Serves 2-4

Ingredients:

  • 2 Russet Potatoes, Grated or 1 Bag Refrigerated Potato Shreds
  • 1 Onion, Diced or sliced
  • 1 Tbsp Cumin
  • ½ Tbsp Ground Red Pepper
  • Garlic Salt (to taste)
  • Ground Black Pepper (to Taste)
  • 1 Tbsp Coconut Oil
  • 2-3 cups Fresh Baby Spinach Leaves
  • Salsa Verde Chicken or Shredded Rotisserie Chicken
  • ¼ cup Shredded Mexican Blend Cheese or 50% Reduced Fat Cabot Jalapeno Cheddar Cheese
  • Low-Fat Sour Cream
  • Sliced Jalapenos (optional)
  • Sriracha Sauce (optional)

Directions:

Heat coconut oil in large skillet. Mix grated potatoes, onion, cumin, ground red pepper, garlic salt, and ground black pepper together. Place in skillet in flat layer. All potatoes to cook around 7-9 minutes or until golden brown. Flip potatoes over which may need to be done in segments. Cook another 7-9 minutes. Meanwhile saute spinach in skillet until wilted. Re-heat Salsa Verde Chicken or shred rotisserie chicken to prepare for assembly.

Place 2/3 – 1 cup shredded potatoes on plate. Top with sautéed spinach, 2 Tbsp shredded cheese, salsa verde chicken, sriracha sauce, sliced jalapenos, and a dollop of low-fat sour cream. Recommend serving with a salad or roasted vegetable of choice!

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Roasted Tomato Pie

It's Not Summer Until You've Enjoyed A Roasted Tomato Pie!! ROASTED TOMATO PIE InspIred by 2FrugalFoodies Deep Dish Pie Crust 8-10 Tomatoes Fresh Basil Leaves 1/2 cup Low-Fat Hellman's Mayo Dried Oregano 1/2 cup Parmesan Cheese 1/2 cup Shredded Cheddar Cheese

To Roast Tomatoes: Pre-Heat oven to 350 degrees. Line baking sheets with aluminum foil. Slice tomatoes into 1/2- inch slices and lay flat on baking sheet. (It usually takes about 2 baking sheets.) Baste tomato slices with EVOO, sea salt & ground pepper. Bake in oven for 45-55 minutes.

Increase oven temp to 400 degrees. Bake pie crust for 10-minutes. Take out and pie crust and place 2 Tbsp shredded cheddar cheese at bottom. Layer 1/2 tomatoes with 1/2 Fresh basil leave and repeat once. Top tomatoes with mayo mixture (mix mayo, Parmesan, pepper, Salt, and oregano) and remaining cheddar cheese.

Bake at 400 degrees for 25-30 minutes. ENJOY!!!

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Heirloom Tomato & Peach Salad

I LOVE summer!!! When it comes to fresh produce, no other season compares!!! The bright colors of fruits & veggies, the fragrant smell of fresh herbs, and abundance of local farmers markets, can entice anyone..... I fell victim this weekend when I made a trip to Pepper Place Farmer's Market located in Birmingham .... I came home with arms loaded!

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One dish I created from my farmers market trip was inspired by MyRecipes.com. This recipe is quick, easy, and full of summer flavors!!!

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Heirloom Tomato & Peach Salad:Serves 4Salad Ingredients: 3-4 Heirloom Tomatoes (a variety of colors add dimension) 3-5 Small Tomatoes (green zebras, red zebras, and yellow tomatoes) Handful of Cherry Tomatoes 2 Peaches, Diced 1 Red Onion Diced 1 Large Avocado, Diced Sea Salt Ground Black Pepper 1 cup Crumbled Feta Cheese Handful of Purple Basil, Shredded Salad Dressing: 1.5 Tbsp Extra Virgin Olive Oil 2 Tbsp Sherry Vinegar Salt Ground Black Pepper 2 teaspoon Honey

Mix first 5 ingredients in a bowl. Season with sea salt and ground black pepper. Mix EVOO, sherry vinegar, sea salt, black pepper, and honey in a bowl or shake in a small mason jar. Pour over tomato mixture. Gently fold in avocado, Basil, and crumbled feta cheese.

Serve as a side with sandwiches or grilled burgers. This salad also pairs great with grilled chicken, fish or pork, or as the main entree along side pecorino & pesto crostini!

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Dinner Gets Creative & Fun with Puff Pastry

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When meal planning, I get inspirations on what to make for the week by seeing what ingredients I have on hand. This helps me to think outside the box, reduce food waste, and save on my grocery budget! Last week I ventured out to try a new recipe (Asparagus and Goat Cheese Tart) by Just A Taste. I had 1 puff pastry sheet leftover from the recipe and did not want it to go to waste…. So I got creative and Puff Pastry Pizzas were born!!!

The fun aspect of Puff Pastry Pizzas is that the options are endless in terms of flavor combinations!!!! This meal was super easy, inexpensive, and requires minimal cooking skills. This would be a great recipe for families to make together, for individuals to whip up on a whim, and couples to enjoy on a date night!

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MUSHROOM & PESTO PASTRY PIZZA

Ingredients:

  • 1 Puff Pastry Sheet, Cut in Half and Score Around the Edges with A Sharp Knife
  • Basil Pesto
  • Portobello Mushroom
  • Kalamata Olives
  • Extra Virgin Olive Oil
  • Garlic Salt & Pepper
  • Goat Cheese (or Cheese of Choice such as feta, gorgonzola, etc)
  • Pine Nuts

Directions:

Pre-heat oven to 400 degrees. Once puff pastry is scored, place on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper and gently pierce pastry with a fork to allow air to escape. Spread 2-3 Tbsp Basil Pesto on pastry.

While oven is warming, cut portobello mushrooms into long strips, coat with EVOO, garlic salt, and pepper. Sauté or grill portobello mushrooms until soft. Place mushrooms, pine nuts, and kalamata olives on pizza. Bake for 12 – 15 minutes or until pastry is slightly brown. Before serving, top pizza with goat cheese and cut into 4 slices.

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BASIL & MOZZARELLA PASTRY PIZZA:

Ingredients:

  • 1 Puff Pastry Sheet, Cut in Half and Score Around the Edges with A Sharp Knife
  • Fresh Basil Leaves
  • Marinara Sauce
  • 1/3 cup Mozzarella Cheese
  • Arugula
  • Portobello Mushrooms

Directions:

Pre-heat oven to 400 degrees. Once puff pastry is scored, place on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper and gently pierce pastry with a fork to allow air to escape. Spread 2-3 Tbsp spaghetti sauce on pastry and top with fresh basil leaves. Sprinkle 1/3 cup mozzarella cheese. Bake for 12-15 minutes or until pastry is slightly golden brown.

While pizza is cooking, cut Portobello mushrooms into long strips, coat with EVOO, garlic salt, and pepper. Sauté or grill portobello mushrooms until soft.

Once pizza is done, top with fresh arugula and mushroom slices. Cut into 4 slices and serve immediately.

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BE CREATIVE WITH YOUR PUFF PASTRY PIZZA! SHARE YOUR FAVORITE FLAVOR COMBINATION WITH THE NUTRIFOCUS FAMILY!!!

Cook Once, Eat for a Week

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If your week looks busy, I encourage you to PLAN AHEAD!!!! Declare this the week that TIME stops being your excuse and starts being your advantage in making nutrient-dense food choices!!!

Planning proceeds production. By simply taking time to plan ahead, you can prepare nutrient dense meals with half the effort!!! Start your week by preparing Salsa Verde Chicken in a slow-cooker and be ready to feed your family in a variety of ways for the rest of the week!!!!

SALSA VERDE CHICKEN

(Recipe From SkinnyTaste )

    • Organic Chicken Breast (4-8 Skinless, Boneless Chicken Breast Depending on Size)
    • 1 Jar of Your Favorite Salsa Verde or Tomato Salsa
    • Cook on High for 4-Hours

SALSA VERDE CHICKEN WEEKLY MENU:

    1. Salsa Verde Chicken Breast served over Mexican Rice and Roasted Asparagus
    2. Salsa Verde Chicken Taquitos with Sriracha Cream Dipping Sauce served with Guacamole Salad
    3. Salsa Verde Tacos served with Refried Beans and Guacamole Salad
    4. Salsa Verde Chicken Salad with Roasted Cumin Sweet Potatoes

SALSA VERDE CHICKEN TAQUITOS

(Recipe Inspired by Just a Taste )

Ingredients:

  • 3 Tablespoons Olive Oil
  • 1 cup Diced Onion
  • 2 Cloves Garlic, Minced
  • 2 Tablespoons Lime Juice
  • 1 Tablespoon Cumin
  • 2 teaspoons Smoked Paprika
  • 1/2 teaspoon Salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon Fresh Black Pepper
  • 3 cups Salsa Verde Chicken or Rotisserie Chicken (Shredded)
  • 1/2 cup Shredded Mexican Blend or Colby Jack Cheese
  • 1 1/2 cups Chicken Broth 12 (6-inch) Corn Tortillas

Directions:

Preheat the oven to 425ºF and line a baking sheet with parchment paper.

In a large saucepan, heat the olive oil over medium heat. Add the diced onion and cook until it's translucent, 3 to 5 minutes. Add the garlic, and cook, stirring occasionally, for about 3 minutes until it's golden and fragrant.

Reduce the heat to low, and then add the lime juice, cumin, paprika, salt and black pepper to the pan, stirring to combine. Add the chicken, tossing to combine.

Transfer the chicken mixture to a large bowl and let it cool for 10 minutes, and then stir in the shredded cheese.

In a medium saucepan over medium heat, bring the chicken broth to a simmer. One at a time, dip each tortilla into the broth for 10 to 15 seconds, just until it's pliable enough to roll. Transfer the tortilla to your work surface and place about 3 tablespoons of the chicken mixture on the lower third of each tortilla. Tightly roll up the tortilla, and then place it seam-side down on the prepared baking sheet. Repeat the filling and rolling process with the remaining tortillas.

Bake the taquitos for 15 to 20 minutes until golden brown and crispy.

Serve with Sriracha Cream Sauce for dipping (Sriracha Sauce mixed with Low-Fat Sour Cream and Fresh Ground Black Pepper and Minced Garlic) and Guacamole Salad.

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SALSA VERDE CHICKEN TACOS:

No recipe needed… it is simply an assembly night! Top a corn tortilla with fat free refried beans, salsa verde chicken, cheese, and leftover sriracha cream sauce or fresh guacamole! Serve with a simply guacamole salad. I recommend Wholly Guacamole if you wish to save time on making fresh guacamole!

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SALSA VERDE CHICKEN SALAD:

It is another assembly night!!! Toss your favorite organic greens in a low-fat dressing or high quality olive oil. Top with your favorite vegetables. For added texture and a nutrient dense starch, add Roasted Cumin Sweet Potatoes (Cube 2-3 Sweet Potatoes, Toss in Olive Oil, Salt, Pepper, and 2 Tbsp Cumin and Roast in Oven at 400 for 30 minutes). Be creative with your salad toppings but do not forget the Salsa Verde Chicken!!!!

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Do you know......? :

  • 1 cup serving of sweet potatoes contain 65% of daily amount of Vitamin C?
  • Sweet Potatoes are a great source for calcium, folate, and potassium
  • Sweet potatoes are a low glycemic food!  Sweet potatoes have an index of 17 which can be compared to a white potato with the index of 29
  • 90% of the world’s crops are grown in Asia
  • Sweet potatoes are great for your skin due to their vitamin A content!
  • Help reduce muscle cramps due to the potassium content
  • The Tater Day Festival, one of the few festivals devoted to sweet potatoes, is held in Benton, Kentucky each year!
  • Color-related phytonutrients (Cyanidins and Peonidins) help to lower the risk posed by heavy metals and oxygen radicals in the digestive tract

Want a recipe idea for sweet potatoes? Try to following recipe from Eating Well -- It's delicious!

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Sweet Potato Fritters with Smoky Pinto Beans

4 servings, 2 fritters & 1/2 cup beans each | Active Time: 35 minutes | Total Time: 45 minutes

Ingredients

  • 1 large sweet potato (about 1 pound)
  • 3 tablespoons canola oil, divided
  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 2 large poblano peppers or small green bell peppers, chopped
  • 1 15-ounce can pinto beans, rinsed
  • 1 1/4 teaspoon smoked paprika (see Note), divided
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt, divided
  • 3/4 cup fine yellow cornmeal
  • 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
  • 3/4 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 large egg, lightly beaten
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 4 lime wedges for garnish

Preparation

  1. Preheat oven to 425°F. Coat a baking sheet with cooking spray.
  2. Prick sweet potato in several places with a fork. Microwave on High until just cooked through, 7 to 10 minutes. (Alternatively, place in a baking dish and bake at 425ºF until tender all the way to the center, about 1 hour.) Set aside to cool.
  3. Meanwhile, heat 1 tablespoon oil in a large saucepan over medium heat. Add onion and peppers and cook, stirring occasionally, until softened, 4 to 6 minutes. Set aside 1/2 cup of the mixture. Add beans, 1/2 teaspoon paprika and 1/4 teaspoon salt to the pan. Cook, stirring occasionally, until heated through, about 2 minutes. Cover and set aside.
  4. Whisk cornmeal, flour, baking powder, the remaining 3/4 teaspoon paprika and 1/2 teaspoon salt in a medium bowl. Peel the sweet potato and mash in a large bowl with a fork. Stir in the reserved onion-pepper mixture, egg and water. Add the cornmeal mixture and stir until just combined.
  5. Form the sweet potato mixture into eight 3-inch oval fritters, using a generous 1/4 cup for each. Heat 1 tablespoon oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium heat. Cook 4 fritters until golden brown, 1 to 2 minutes per side. Transfer to the prepared baking sheet. Repeat with the remaining fritters and oil.

Bake the fritters until puffed and firm to the touch, 8 to 10 minutes. Serve the fritters with the reserved bean mixture and lime wedges, if desired.

Out with the Apples, and in with the Cherries!

I have experimented with another Cooking Light recipe and I have once again found a phenomenal recipe! In fact, this recipe might just be the all time favorite of my husband!  And I’m not complaining considering this recipe takes all of 15 minutes from start to finish!

This recipe offers a great alternative for the traditional pork and applesauce dish! Not to mention, a great way to ADD COLOR to your plate!!

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I served the pork chops with baked sweet potato and arugula salad w/ feta, tomatoes, balsamic vinaigrette, and sunflower seeds, but the options are endless!

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Give it a try and let me know what you think!!!

Pork Chops with Cherry Preserves SauceCooking Light, AUGUST 2006 Yield:  4 servings (serving size: 1 pork chop and about 1/4 cup sauce)

Cooking spray 4 (4-ounce) boneless loin pork chops 1/2 teaspoon salt, divided 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper, divided 1 cup cherry preserves 1 teaspoon balsamic vinegar Chopped chives (optional)

Heat a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Coat pan with cooking spray. Sprinkle pork with 1/4 teaspoon salt and 1/8 teaspoon black pepper. Add pork to pan; cook 4 minutes on each side or until browned. Remove pork from pan, and keep warm.

Add preserves, vinegar, remaining 1/4 teaspoon salt, and remaining 1/8 teaspoon pepper to pan. Cook 30 seconds, scraping pan to loosen browned bits. Serve with pork. Garnish with chopped chives, if desired.

National Nutrition Month - GO GREEN!

Green fruits and vegetables get their color from the plant pigment called chlorophyll! Chlorophyll may help reduce the risk of cataracts and age-related macular degeneration which leads to blindness, in combination with lutein. Lutein can be found in spinach, dark leafy greens, green peppers, peas, cucumber, and celery.

Not only will you get lutein from eating your greens, but also a certain vitamin B known as FOLATE!  Folate helps reduce the risk of birth defects!

Other great green produce includes: green apples, artichokes, asparagus, avocados, green beans, broccoli, Brussels sprouts, green cabbage, honeydew melon, kiwi, lettuce, limes, peas, zucchini

In the spirit of National Nutrition Month,  I added COLOR to our meal last nigth by incorporating spinach!  I made a Basil-Potato Frittata (recipe can be found on www.myrecipes.com) which included eggs, cheese, basil, and potatoes but NO VEGGIES!  The problem was easy to solve. While sautéing the onion, I threw in 2 large handfuls of spinach and added both items to the mixture!  It did not alter the taste, but did increase the amount of vitamins and minerals we consumed!!  I recommend giving this recipe a try and be creative…. Add your own vegetable combination and let the NutriFocus family know about it!!

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Basil-Potato Frittata

2 cups diced baking potato (about 1 large) Vegetable cooking spray 1/2 cup thinly sliced onion, separated into rings 1/4 cup (1/2 ounce) finely grated fresh Parmesan cheese, divided 1 tablespoon chopped fresh basil 2 tablespoons water 1/2 teaspoon salt 1/2 teaspoon hot sauce 4 egg whites, lightly beaten 3 eggs, lightly beaten 1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar

Place the diced potato in a medium saucepan; cover with water, and bring to a boil. Cook 7 minutes or until tender. Drain and let cool.

Coat a large nonstick skillet with cooking spray; place over medium heat until hot. Add onion; sauté 6 minutes or until tender. Remove from heat, and set aside.

Combine 3 tablespoons of cheese, basil, and the next 5 ingredients (basil through eggs) in a medium bowl; stir in potato and onion. Wipe skillet with paper towels, and recoat with cooking spray. Place skillet over medium heat until hot. Add egg mixture, and cook 6 minutes or until almost set.

Wrap handle of skillet with foil, and broil 1 1/2 minutes. Top with remaining cheese, and broil for 30 seconds or until cheese melts. Drizzle vinegar over the frittata, and cut into 4 wedges. Serve warm.

Recipe Recommendation - Golden Winter Soup!

A couple of weeks ago on a Sunday, the weather was brisk and I was extremely tired from the previous week, so I was in the mood for a warm, comforting meal.  I was in the mood for potato soup, but when I was looking for a new recipe to try, a recipe named “Golden Winter Soup” caught my eye!

Butternut squash has an odd shape, a cream-colored outer shell, and a highly nutritious, pumpkin-like center.  Butternut squash is considered a starchy vegetable because 90% of its total calories are derived from the carbohydrate family.  One serving of butternut squash provides the body with 298% of your daily recommended value of vitamin A, 50% of the daily recommended amount of vitamin C, and 3 grams (11%) of fiber in every serving.  The antioxidant and anti-inflammatory components of butternut squash put it in the spotlight for cancer prevention & treatment.

Butternut squash also provides the body with certain minerals.  One serving contains 14% of daily recommended value of manganese, a mineral that is important in metabolizing proteins and fat.  Other minerals that are present include, potassium, which supports muscle action, and magnesium which plays a role in cell formation.

Let the cooking process began:

After cubing the butternut squash, I peeled and cubed the russet potatoes and melted butter in a large Dutch oven over medium-high heat.

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Once butter was melted I added the butternut squash, russet potatoes, salt, and pepper to the dutch over and sautéed for approximately 3 minutes.

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While the mixture was on the stove, I added 1 chopped leek and sautéed for another minute before stirring in 4 cups vegetable broth.  The recipe calls for chicken broth (which I had also purchased) so to be honest, using vegetable broth was by mistake! I just wasn't paying attention when I pulled the broth out of the cabinet! Once broth was added, it was brought to a boil and simmered for 20 minutes.

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The recipe instructs you to place half of the potato mixture in a blender.  To make the process easier, I removed the soup from the stove, and used my Hand-held Blender.  This drastically reduced the time and effort needed to pull of this soup.

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I submerged the blender in the dutch oven and puréed the soup until it had a smooth consistency.  The consistency is also a place in this recipe that you can make adjustments according to your preferences.  I like my soups to have a little texture to them so I left a few pieces in small chunks.

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And finally, I stir in 1 cup of half-and-half until mixed well. Cover to keep soup warm until served! I served this soup with a slice of Havarti cheese bread for ease, but you could also pair this soup with baked potato, salad, or half of a sandwich or panini!

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This recipe leaves room for you to be creative in how you serve it!   Great for a dinner party because it is easy to make and makes a large portion. Mike and I had a large bowl for a total of 3 meals and I still had to throw some of the soup out! But since we both loved the soup so much, we "filed" it in our favorite column to have again soon!

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Golden Winter Soup

Recipe by: Cooking Light

2 tablespoons butter 5 cups (1/2-inch) cubed peeled butternut squash (about 1 1/2 pounds) 2 cups (1/2-inch) cubed peeled russet potato (about 12 ounces) 1 teaspoon kosher salt 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper 2 cups sliced leek (about 2 medium) 4 cups fat-free, less-sodium chicken broth 1 cup half-and-half 12 ounces baguette, cut into 16 slices 3/4 cup (3 ounces) shredded Gruyère cheese 3 tablespoons chopped chives Freshly ground black pepper (optional)

Melt butter in a large Dutch oven over medium-high heat. Add squash, potato, salt, and pepper to pan; sauté 3 minutes. Add leek; sauté 1 minute. Stir in broth; bring to a boil. Reduce heat, and simmer 20 minutes or until potato is tender, stirring occasionally. Place half of potato mixture in a blender. Remove center piece of blender lid (to allow steam to escape); secure blender lid on blender. Place a clean towel over opening in blender lid (to avoid splatter). Blend until smooth. Pour into a large bowl. Repeat procedure with remaining potato mixture. Stir in half-and-half. Cover and keep warm.