Fall flavors and seasonal produce are my go-to's lately.
I love butternut squash, in particular, and I'm always trying to find different but simple ways to cook it, adding some of the other seasonal staples. Cranberries are sweet and tart at the same time and are the perfect pair for the sweet and buttery taste of the butternut squash. Adding some sage leaves just gives it the perfect final touch and makes these bowls a super comforting meal on a cold day when you just feel like having something special for lunch or dinner.
I also added some walnuts that gave this whole dish a nutty and warm flavor. I love nuts and I always try to incorporate them into my daily meals as a source of healthy fats. They are a great complement for our daily diet, as long as we do some portion control not to have too much calories just from nut intake.
Nuts are high in natural antioxidants, like polyphenols which may protect cells and LDL cholesterol from damage. They can also help reduce inflammation and and are high in fiber which are all great benefits for such mighty tiny little things! I love all kinds of nuts but I'm particularly fond of walnuts, pecans and almonds.
When I make a smoothie bowl for breakfast, for example, I always make sure to top it with seeds and nuts and also some freshly cut fruit and a drizzle of honey - it's a perfect way to start the day and I have a nice serving of healthy fats and nutrients from the fruit too. I use almond or coconut milk since I gave up dairy after realizing how inflammatory it was to me. When I have something else for breakfast I always find a way to incorporate nuts in, at least, one of my daily meals and I must say that I can't even imagine my daily diet without them!
As for my kids, my oldest also loves nuts and usually adds them to his oatmeal with honey, in the morning. My youngest is still not on the nut wagon but she'll get there, eventually! I always like my kids to try everything I cook so they can experience a wide range of flavors and textures and sometimes what they don't like one week becomes their favorite thing the next one!
Talk about ever changing tastes!
One of my goals as a mom of two young children is to teach them how to eat healthy and to make healthy choices. As long as they have the basic notions I believe they'll grow up with the right mindset and, hopefully, will become responsible adults who care about what they feed their bodies.
As for this recipe, the kids are not too fond of butternut squash so mom and dad had these amazing little lunch treats all for themselves! And what a treat that was!
1 small butternut squash
1/2 cup dried cranberries (look for the natural ones, with no added ingredients/sugar)
1/4 cup fresh sage leaves
1/2 cup halves walnuts
2 Tbsp olive oil
salt and pepper
1/2 Tbsp garlic powder
1 tsp all spice (all natural)
1 - Start by preheating the oven to 450 F.
2 - Peel the butternut squash, cutting it in half and then, after removing the seeds, dice it in small size chunks.
3 - Add the squash pieces to a large bowl where you'll be mixing all the other ingredients.
4 - Add all the other ingredients to the bowl: the cranberries, walnuts and the sage leaves roughly chopped. Season with the salt, pepper, garlic powder and all spice.
5 - Mix everything together and lastly add the olive oil, giving a very good mix after that to incorporate all the ingredients.
6 - Fill a greased baking tray with the butternut squash mix - I used two medium sized souffle bowls which also work perfectly if you're going to make this as single serve meals. I just brushed the inside of the bowls with a bit of olive oil and added the butternut squash mix.
7 - Take the butternut squash filled bowls to the oven to bake for about 30 minutes. Check every 5 minutes after the first 20 so you can adjust the baking time to your own oven - times can vary a bit depending on the oven you have.
8 - After the cooking time has finished and the butternut squash has a beautiful brown color on top , turn the oven off and remove the bowls from the oven.
I had one of these amazing Fall festive cups for lunch, with a perfectly fried organic pasture raised egg on top - the creaminess of the egg yolk was the scrumptious final touch over the brown and toasted butternut squash! Just forgot to take a picture of the said amazing egg!
These squash bowls can also be made with other roasted vegetables. Just play with your favorites and add some different spices to make different combinations for the whole family.
This is a dish that reheats very well so you can easily fit in into your Sunday meal prep and use it during the week to build your weekly menu: add some of your favorite proteins or have it has a breakfast bowl just by adding one or two fried eggs! Just check the post I tagged above, about meal prep, to get an idea about how simple your week meals can get if you start meal prepping over the weekend!
As for me, this is a perfect side dish that allows me to make a whole meal out of it too and that is one of the advantages of thinking about versatile meals - being able to switch the menu with a few staples is what allows me to keep my sanity on busy weeknights!
Just in time for Thanksgiving I tried this new stuffing recipe and it is a keeper!
As most of you know, we don't have any family with us, here in the US, so we spend this holiday season by ourselves. We enjoy the four day weekend and always try to do something fun with the kids, like go roller skating, going to the movies and, of course, having a Thanksgiving dinner as a family. We always go out for dinner and last year we found the perfect place: good food, great service and a family friendly place to have an amazing dinner together.
I always buy a turkey but I save it for when we have visits coming by and I always try to give the recipe a twist!
This year I decided to try a whole30 friendly stuffing with a cauliflower base, some more vegetables and a whole lot of pecans! I love the contrast between savory and sweet and this stuffing really does the trick - salty cauliflower and veggie mix and sweet dried cranberries are the perfect combo! Add some crunchy pecans to the mix and you have a winner, just right there!
This recipe must be made in a pan that can be transferred from the stove top t the oven: I used my cast iron pan which I love to use in this kind of recipes. I always get the impression that food gets even more flavor for being cooked in a cast iron!
I served this as a side dish not really as stuffing inside the turkey. The texture is perfect and the secret is not to overcook the cauliflower rice - if the mix seems a bit dry just add some chicken broth to make it a bit more loose, but not too much! There's nothing worse than mushy cauliflower rice!
I hope this recipe comes in handy and that you'll be able to give it a try for your Thanksgiving dinner. It's a healthy recipe with whole ingredients that, I hope, will please everyone.
1 small sweet onion
1 Tbsp olive oil
2 celery stalks
salt and pepper
1/2 Tbsp garlic powder
1 Tbsp fresh thyme
3 cups of cauliflower rice (I just used a whole cauliflower, cut it in medium size chunks and riced it on the food processor by using the "pulse" function a few times, until the texture was perfect to use)
1/3 cup dried crnaberries
2 Tbsp chopped pecans + extra to use as a topping for the stuffing
1 cup pomegranate seeds
1 - Preheat the oven to 450 F.
2 - Peel and finely dice the onion and the carrot. Dice the celery too and get the olive oil in the pan.
3 - Heat the olive oil for a minute and add the onions first. Cook them for a couple of minutes and add the carrot and celery. Season with salt, pepper, the thyme and half of the garlic powder. Cook in medium heat for about 6-8 minutes.
4 - Add the riced cauliflower, the chopped pecans and the dried cranberries and mix everything together. Cook for about 8 minutes and, if you see that the mixture is getting to dry, just add a bit of chicken stock (maybe 1 or 2 Tbsp) to help cook the vegetables without burning them.
5 - Turn off the heat and add the pecans as topping for the stuffing. Place the pan in the oven to roast for about 20 minutes. This will give the pecans, and the whole dish really, a deeper and stronger flavor.
6 - Add the pomegranate seeds to the top of the stuffing and serve as a side dish together with the other Thanksgiving fixings!
Doesn't that look good?
Who said cauliflower is boring never tried it like this! That's for sure!
I really love cooking chicken based meals! It is such a versatile protein that allows us to make thousands of recipes with it and never be bored! From all the things I can cook I don't think there's anything more bland than plain than chicken breasts. That is why I usually go with chicken thighs, to have a more flavorful and rich meat which always enhances the flavor of any other ingredient you'll add to it.
Last week I tried this super easy and quick recipe and it was a hit with the whole family. I rely on my Instant Pot to have fast and healthy options that I can cook up during those weeknights when I don't have anything left from my Sunday meal prep or if I ended up not having enough time to meal prep at all.
This recipe was enough for a dinner for the 4 of us and 4 additional servings for the next day lunches. I cooked up some jasmine rice to go with the chicken.
6 big chicken thighs
1 big sweet onion
2/3 big can of crushed tomatoes
freshly chopped parsley
1 can of pitted black olives
1 + 1/2 cup frozen peas
1 cup low sodium chicken broth
salt and pepper
1 Tbsp garlic powder
1 cup Jasmine rice
2 cups chicken broth
1 Tbsp freshly chopped parsley
1 - Prep all your ingredients so you can fill up your Instant Pot or pressure cooker. Peel and dice the onion, wash and chop the parsley, strain the olives from the can and check to see if there are any visible pits showing; I've had some surprises with this kind of olives so I make sure to always check this every single time.
2 - On the bottom of the pan brush some olive oil and place the chicken thighs over it: cover with the diced onion and season with salt, pepper and the garlic powder.
3 - Cover the chicken thighs with the crushed tomatoes and the freshly chopped parsley - I used about 2 Tbsp and added some extra when serving up on each individual plate. I'm a herb lover so I always load up on fresh herbs on my own plate!
4 - I added the chicken stock, closed the lid and set the Instant Pot to the "Poultry" program, for 20 minutes.
5 - After the program finished I released the steam by the quick release method, opened the lid and added the frozen peas. Close the lid and set the pot to the "Poultry" option again for another 5 minutes. After that time, release the pressure on the pot and add the pitted black olives, closing the lid and just letting everything finish cooking for about 10 minutes, with the remaining interior heat from the pot.
6 - While the chicken was cooking I got my rice cooking: I took the chicken stock to a boiling point and added the jasmine rice to the pot. Seasoned with salt and let it cook according to the instructions, about 12 minutes or until all the stock is absorbed and the rice is fluffy. I added some freshly chopped parsley just before serving and mixed the rice with the fresh herbs so the flavor got all over the rice, not just on top.
This is a pretty simple dish with natural and healthy ingredients and that can be cooked quickly for a comforting family meal.
If you wish to skip the rice cooking process you can also go with potatoes, cooked together with the chicken! In that case, you must wash the potatoes, pat them dry with a cloth and chop them in small chucks. Add the chopped potatoes together with the frozen peas and the 5 min cooking time should be perfect to get them cooked through but not mushy.
I love giving my food a bit of a quick so I love adding some red pepper flakes or hot sauce to my own food, on my own plate. When cooking just for me and the hubby I add it to the food when cooking it but if it's a meal for the kids too I add it separately so they can eat theirs regular and we can have ours spicy.
I hope I get you to try this recipe out because it really is a winner!
If you're currently on a whole30 round you can't have the peas or the rice so you can substitute those for potatoes and leave the regular version for when you're off a round, if you see that legumes are not an issue for you.
It's all about balance and what works good for each one of us.
Today I'll be trying out some side dishes that are sometimes the star of a meal but often get forgotten about when I post my recipes! Sometimes you have like a simple protein option like grilled chicken breast or roasted chicken and just need a good, simple but perfect side dish to go with it so I'll be working on giving you perfect options for that.
Some of my favorite recipes are the most simple ones!
Delicious and comforting food is easy to cook and the only requirements really are using the ingredients and flavors that your family loves. During the cold weather season I love meals that I can prepare quickly so it won't take a lot of time to prep up on a week day. Even so there is always a way to make it prettier and to make it look festive so that at, dinner time, you can get some wow's from the kids and a round of applause from your family!
In the case of this Shepard's pie mini bowls you can simply cover the cooked meat and sauce mixture with the mashed potatoes but if you have a little bit of time and can use a pipping bag (I used a cut up Ziploc bag because I couldn't fin my pipping bag, so much for my organization skills!) to make it into pretty velvety mashed potato flowers! Just be sure to let the mash cool down a bit before doing this step so you won't end up burning your hands!
1 lbs ground beef (I used the one I got from Butcher Box)
1 medium sized sweet onion
1 garlic clove
1 medium can of natural tomato sauce
salt and pepper
freshly ground nutmeg
1 tsp garlic powder
2 Tbsp olive oil
I really make my mashed potatoes without measuring anything!
I'll steam my peeled potatoes in the InstaPot for about 10 minutes and, after getting the pressure out by the fast releasing method I mash them with a potato masher and add some almond milk, about a Tbsp of ghee (you can use regular milk and butter if you're not dairy-free). The amount of milk really depends on how runny or sturdy you like your mash - more runny means more milk and more sturdy requires less milk - just add a bit at a time so you can control the texture to your liking. In the end I season the mashed potatoes with salt, pepper and a bit of freshly ground nutmeg which, I think, gives it the perfect final touch. Like I said I didn't measure anything but I'd go with 1 lbs potatoes, 1 cup milk and 1 Tbsp ghee.
1 - Peel the potatoes and get them steaming on the InstaPot (use the rack to place the potatoes above the water and use about 1 cup of water) or on the stove top, depending on what method you prefer and usually go for. While the potatoes are cooking get the meat sauce going.
2 - Peel and finely dice the onion, the garlic clove and the carrot. Get the olive oil heating in a non-stick pan and add the onion first. Cook them for about 3 minutes until the onion starts changing color and becoming translucent. Add the garlic clove and the diced carrot and let cook for about 8 minutes.
3 - Remove the vegetables from the pan and set aside. Heat another Tbsp of olive oil and cook up thee ground meat until it gets these little brown and super tasty edges! Season the meat with salt, pepper and garlic powder.
4 - Add the previously cooked vegetables to the pan and mix everything together gently. Add the tomato sauce and about 1/2 cup of freshly chopped parsley. Mix and let this simmer for about 20 minutes in low heat. If you notice that your mix looks a bit dry just add a bit of bone broth or regular chicken broth to make it a bit more loose.
5 - While the meat sauce is simmering make the mashed potatoes. Turn off the InstaPot and remove the potatoes to a non-stick pot. Use a masher to get them mashed according to your taste, more chunky or smooth and add the milk and ghee. Season with salt, pepper and about half a tsp of freshly ground nutmeg. Heat this up for about 3 minutes and set aside in a bowl so it cools down a bit while you get everything together to assemble the mini bowls.
5 - Taste the meat sauce to make sure that it's at your taste and adjust the seasoning, if necessary.
6 - Get your assembly line going for the mini bowls or, if you prefer, you can also serve this Shepard's pie in a big roasting pan or deep dish. Place some of the meat sauce to fill about 2/3 of the cups and then use a pipping bag to spread the mashed potatoes on top.
7 - Get the Shepard's pie in the oven for about 5 minutes under the broiler making sure that you check it after this time to see if the top of the mashed potatoes gets brown but not burnt! We must always keep whatever we have under the broiler at plain sight because it really is a very quick process.
8 - Serve the Shepard's pie with some freshly chopped parsley on top to make it pretty and even more tastier!
This is a super comforting dish and it's the perfect family meal. It is also a very versatile dish and you can add or remove some of the ingredients to make this recipe your own - just add some green peas, cut green beans, peppers or sweet corn to give it a twist or use sweet potatoes for the mash and you can get dozens of variations of this recipe! It is a great recipe to use those turkey leftovers from Thanksgiving that's just coming up next week.
It is also a very good dish to make in double batches and freeze to keep at hand for those weeknights when you don't really feel like cooking or don't really have the time to do it. Wrap up each cup in plastic wrap or aluminium foil and identify each cup with the date of cooking and the oven temperature and cooking time just to make it even more practical.
This really is a favorite at my house and the kids absolutely love mashed potatoes so I'm trying to put up some more recipes with it so we can have a bit more diversity of meals with this super comforting staple.
As for myself, I'm thinking about a sweet potato casserole with nuts...it sounds just perfect!
Until then I'll also be planning some meals to prep for mid December. We'll be having my mother-in-law visiting from Portugal and I'll be trying out some new recipes because she is always ready to try new foods and she is a really foodie like myself, which makes her visit a really exciting time of the year...besides being the holidays and getting the kids to have their grandmother for 3 weeks all for themselves!
On this snowy day be warm and eat good food - that always sounds like a good advice!