Fuel for the Soul

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Simple Meals

Meal Makeover: Shrimp and Avocado Pesto "Pasta"

Eating Healthy, Gluten Free, Healthy Lifestyle, Healthy Recipe, Meal Makeover, Nutrition, Recipe, Simple Mealskellypuryear2 Comments

There is nothing more comforting to me than a big ol' plate of pasta, but there are few meals more calorically dense or higher in carbohydrates! One of my favorite meals is shrimp and spaghetti with pesto sauce and Parmesan cheese, but this meal can contain upwards of 1,000 - 1,300 calories and leaves me feeling bloated, sluggish, and curled up on the couch in the fetal position (thanks GLUTEN)! This terrible combination lead me to search for a recipe for a healthier version of my beloved Pesto Pasta that would provide me with the right combination of nutrients to leave me feeling energized and still give me that "comfort food" feel I so desperately miss. After a few trial and errors with different recipes, I decided to make my own version of a Pesto Pasta that is higher in protein, healthy fats, and antioxidants and lower in calories, saturated fat, and empty carbohydrates. I was quite surprised with the end result and could not believe how delicious my concoction was... not to mention it is naturally gluten-free, contains 2-3 servings of vegetables, and is surprisingly filling!

Let me introduce to you....

Shrimp and Avocado Pesto "Pasta"

Shrimp Pesto Zoodle Pasta

The big secret is I used zucchini and yellow squash for the "pasta" (also known as "zoodles") and avocado and spinach in the pesto sauce! I promise you won't miss the spaghetti and your taste buds will be blown away by the avocado pesto sauce!

So what are you waiting for!? Give this made-over recipe a try!

Ingredients: (Makes 4 servings)

* Avocado Pesto Sauce (About 30 calories per 2 tbsp - serving)

  • 1/2 small Haas Avocado
  • 3 tbsp fresh squeezed lemon juice (1/2 a lemon)
  • 2 cups baby spinach leaves (stems removed)
  • 10 Basil leaves (stems removed)

* Shrimp & Zoodles 

  • Olive oil spray
  • Old bay spice (to taste)
  • 12 oz pre-cooked, frozen shrimp (thawed)
  • 2-3 medium zucchinis
  • 2-3 medium yellow squash
  • 1 cup grape tomatoes
  • 1/2 cup reduced-fat Parmesan cheese (for topping)
  • Red Chili flakes (to taste)

* Tools needed:

Instructions:

  1. Combine all the ingredients for the Avocado Spinach Pesto in a food processor and blend until well combined. You may need to scrape down the sides of the bowl periodically and add a tbsp or two of water to reach desired consistency. Once the pesto reaches your desired consistency and taste, set aside in the refrigerator while you prepare the shrimp and zoodles.
  2. Use a vegetable spiralizer or mandolin slicer to turn your zucchini and yellow squash into vegetable noodles. Once all vegetables are spiralized, set aside.
  3. Spray a large skillet / sauce pan with olive oil spray and saute the shrimp with the Old Bay (to taste) until the shrimp are heated through (about 2 minutes). Add the spiralized zucchini and yellow squash and heat for another 1-2 minutes until the vegetables are heated through and soften up a bit.
  4. Remove the skillet from the heat and add the avocado pesto sauce. Mix well!
  5. Divide the shrimp and zoodles among 4 plates and top each plate with 1/4 cup grape tomatoes, 2 tbsp Parmesan cheese, and chili flakes (to taste).

Shrimp & Zoodles(Sauteing the Shrimp and Zoodles with Old Bay :-) )

And that's all there is to it! A quick and VERY healthy meal the whole family will love, without the carb-overload and bloating! You can switch up the ingredients to your liking and be creative with your very own concoctions! Some of my favorite versions of this Pesto Pasta include grilled chicken and ground turkey with canned diced tomatoes!

Grilled chicken zoodles

(Grilled chicken breast with "Pesto Pasta")

Turkey zoodles

(Ground turkey with "Pasta" Marinara)

Go ahead, have fun with your Pesto Pasta! You can thank me later :-)

Bon appetit!

Meal made in minutes: Chicken & Brown Rice Bowl

Eating Healthy, Healthy Lifestyle, Healthy Recipe, Meal in Minutes, Nutrition, Quick lunch, Recipe, Simple MealskellypuryearComment

I love Sundays! For many, it is a day to rest and recover from the busy week; to spend time with family and friends; and a day to enjoy some "me time." But for some, it is a day that is full of honey-do lists and endless errands; full of catching up on the list of things you left un-done from the previous week; and a day spent trying to get ahead of the game at home or at the office. For me, Sundays consist of a little bit of both - spending time with my husband and in-laws mixed in with endless chores around the house, running errands, and prepping for the week ahead. The day passes by so quickly and before I know it, it's nearing 9:00 pm and I still need to prepare my meals for the next few days. When I am short on time (which happens more often than not) my go-to meal is some variation of a Brown Rice Bowl - a super easy way to combine your favorite foods in one bowl to take to work with you for lunch or to have ready when you come home for dinner. On the menu for this Monday is one of my favorite bowls - the Chicken and Brown Rice Bowl - full of lean protein, healthy fats, complex carbohydrates, and colorful vegetables!

chicken bowl

This meal (inspired by one of our favorite South Tampa restaurants, Ciccio's) is not only super easy to make, but it is loaded with nutrients and long-lasting energy! All you have to do is a little prep work the night before and you will have a meal made in minutes that will be sure to satisfy :-)

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 cup brown rice
  • 1-2 cups mixed greens
  • 4 oz cooked chicken breast meat (from a rotisserie chicken or grilled chicken breast)
  • 1/4 cup guacamole (1 single-serve guacamole packet)
  • 1-2 tbsp balsamic & olive oil dressing

Directions:

  1. Boil or steam brown rice (as instructed) I used Minute Rice and boiled 1 cup of rice for 5 minutes. I saved the rest for leftovers.
  2. While rice is cooking, remove (4 oz) chicken breast and chop into smaller pieces. I used a rotisserie chicken, but grilled or baked chicken breast is fine too). 
  3. Once rice is cooked and cooled, place 1/2 cup into a Tupperware bowl and top with mixed greens, and chopped chicken breast.
  4. Add guacamole and dressing right before serving and enjoy!

I typically eat this quick meal for lunch and take the Tupperware with me on-the-go. I recommend waiting to add the guacamole and dressing until you are ready to eat to prevent the greens from getting soggy and the guacamole from turning brown.

This is such a quick and versatile meal! You can really use any lean protein and any other vegetable your heart desires for this bowl, you just need to do a little planning and prepping the night before!

Here are some variations of the Rice Bowl for substitution ideas and inspiration:

Chicken buritto bowl

(Chicken Burrito Bowl: with brown rice, spinach, grilled chicken breast, grape tomatoes, salsa, avocado, and 1 hard-boiled egg) Chicken green bean bowl

(Lighter Chicken Bowl: with mixed greens, steamed green beans, grilled chicken breast, grape tomatoes, and balsamic dressing)

Here are some tips for the planning and prepping:

  • Buy a rotisserie chicken from the grocery store when you do your weekly food shopping or bake a couple chicken breasts on Sunday evening for the beginning of the week.
  • Use Minute brown rice, steam-able rice bags for the microwave, or boil a batch of rice on Sundays to use as leftovers for the next few days.
  • Look for single-serve guacamole packets (such as Wholly Guacamole)  and pour your salad dressing in small Tupperware container for on-the-go convenience.

Bon appetit!

 

Meal Makeover: Momma's Spinach and Tomato Quiche

Eating Healthy, Gluten Free, Healthy Lifestyle, Healthy Recipe, Meal Makeover, Nutrition, Recipe, Simple MealskellypuryearComment

There is nothing better than a home-cooked meal that is made with love, but these hearty home-cooked meals are usually high in fat, sugar, and sodium and overall high in calories. While these recipes "have been in the family for generations," there's nothing wrong with a little "makeover" action to make your favorite home-cooked meals hearty AND healthy! Take my mom's famous Spinach and Tomato Quiche recipe, for example - while it has been in the family for years, it is not the most waist-friendly OR heart-healthy meal for the family (sorry mom!).

Today's Meal Makeover: Momma's Spinach and Tomato QuicheQuiched cooked

Turned into Spinach and Tomato Egg White Quiche

With a simple swap of a few ingredients, I was able to turn my mother's famous (calorie-laden) Quiche into a low-fat, high-protein, Gluten-Free slim & trim Spinach and Tomato Egg White Quiche that the WHOLE family will love (and not feel guilty about having seconds)! The recipe make 6 generous servings and each serving has 180 calories, 5g fat (2g sat fat), 20g carbs, 3g sugar, and a whopping 16g protein! One serving also provides 34% of your daily Vitamin A and 45% of your daily Calcium requirements! Now that's a win, win, win situation!

So here's the recipe - super simple and ready in under 1 hour!

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup non-fat plain Greek yogurt (I used Oikos)
  • 1/2 a packet of Hidden Valley Ranch Dip (dry mix)
  • 1 & 1/2 cups unsweetened almond milk (I used Silk original unsweetened)
  • 1 cup Gluten-Free all purpose baking mix (I used Bob's Red Mill)
  • 1 cup liquid egg whites (I used All Whites)
  • 1 cup 2% (part-skim) shredded mozzarella cheese (I used Publix brand)
  • 2 cups baby spinach (I used Fresh Express)
  • 1 cup diced tomatoesQuiche Set-up

(The ingredients)

Instructions:

  1. Pre-heat oven to 400 deg. F and lightly spray a 9 X 13 baking dish with olive oil spray
  2. In a large mixing bowl, combine Greek yogurt with Ranch dip mix until it's evenly mixed in. Then add the almond milk and egg whites until completely combined
  3. Add the Gluten-free baking mix and mix very well, until all clumps are dissolved and mixture is completely blended
  4. In the prepared baking dish, layer the spinach to completely cover the entire bottom of the dish, then layer the diced tomatoes over the spinach, then layer the shredded cheese over the spinach and tomato layers
  5. Slowly pour the egg white mixture over the layers and push down any floating pieces of spinach with the back of a large spoon so that the egg white mixture completely covers the other ingredients
  6. Bake in the oven for 40-45 minutes or until the cheese slightly browns and the egg whites have completely set. (Feel free to stick a tooth pick or skewer stick to test that the egg whites have set completely and the tooth pick comes out clean)
  7. Let the dish cool for about 5-10 minutes, cut into 6 even pieces and serve

** You can store the Quiche in the fridge for about 3 days and reheat in the microwave to eat at anytime of the day (breakfast, lunch, dinner, or even for a hearty snack)!

Quiche uncooked

(The layers of spinach, tomatoes, and cheese - before adding egg white mixture)

If you are serving the Quiche for breakfast, I recommend adding a bowl of plain oatmeal with nuts and berries for added complex carbohydrates, healthy fats, and antioxidants to power your loved-ones (or yourself) up for the busy day ahead. If you plan to have the Quiche for lunch or dinner, I recommend adding in a slice of whole-grain bread and sliced avocado (i.e. avocado toast) or a side of brown rice or mashed sweet potato with a dash of brown sugar! YUM!

It's as easy as that! Now you have "tools" you need to serve up this delicious and healthy Quiche that the whole family will love! I am sure this recipe will stay in the family for generations to come :-)

Meals made in minutes: Super Easy Tuna Salad

Eating Healthy, Gluten Free, Healthy Lifestyle, Healthy Recipe, Meal in Minutes, Nutrition, Quick lunch, Recipe, Simple MealskellypuryearComment

Monday means the beginning of the busy work-week and the beginning of "not having enough time" to prepare a healthy meal during the day! For those of you who feel the same way, have no fear! Come HERE every Monday to find a super easy and nutritious recipe for a meal made in minutes!  That's right, every Sunday evening I will post a new recipe for one of my favorite meals that can be made in minutes! Make this meal Sunday night to take into work with you on Monday for a healthy lunch or wait until you come home from work and whip up this meal for a super easy dinner!

Today's Meal Made in Minutes: Super Easy Tuna Salad

Winning Combo Tuna Salad(Proof that even a "novice chef" can make this meal!)

What you will need:

  • Two cups of your favorite mixed greens (I used Fresh Express Mixed Greens)
  • 1 single serve pouch of StarKist Low Sodium Chunk Light Tuna (2.6 oz)
  • 1 single serve Wholly Guacamole mini cup
  • 2 Tbsp plain non-fat Greek Yogurt (I used Oikos Greek Yogurt)
  • 1/4th cup cherry tomatoes (sliced in half)
  • 1/2 whole wheat tortilla wrap or Lavash bread (I used Sami's Bakery Millet & Flax Lavash)
  • 2 tbsp Balsamic Vinaigrette salad dressing
  • Red chili flakes and black pepper to taste

How to prepare it:

  • Mix the tuna with the guacamole and Greek yogurt in a small bowl, add in the chili flakes and pepper (to taste) and stir to completely combine all ingredients
  • In a serving bowl, place mixed greens and tomatoes in the bottom of the bowl and pour 1 tbsp balsmic vinaigrette on top
  • Top the mixed greens with tuna salad and pour remaining 1 tbsp dressing over the tuna
  • Serve with 1/2 tortilla or Lavash and dig in!

This meal provides all three macro-nutrients - complex carbohydrates, lean protein, and healthy fats (known as "the winning combos") - with tons of antioxidants for long lasting energy to get you through the long work day!

For a variation of this Super Easy Tuna Salad, try adding in some baby carrots for extra antioxidants! Go ahead, have fun with your food!

Tuna Salad w carrotsThat's really all there is to it! A healthy meal made in minutes that doesn't skimp out on nutrients or taste!

Enjoy!

Meal Makeover: Meet the Meatza Pizza!

Eating Healthy, Gluten Free, Healthy Pizza, Healthy Recipe, Meal Makeover, Recipe, Simple Mealskellypuryear3 Comments

Hey there! Welcome to my FIRST EVER blog post! For those of you who know me well, you are very familiar with my never-ending "meal makeovers" and healthy(er) recipe posts on my Pinterest, Instagram, and Facebook pages, but now you will be able to come to one site to see all of my creative meals and recipes! I hope you enjoy what you see... make...and EAT! I figured there was no better way to start my first Recipe Blog Post than to introduce you all to the greatest thing since sliced GLUTEN-FREE bread!! Allow me to introduce the amazing "Meatza" Pizza - which just happens to be NATURALLY gluten-free and SURPRISINGLY delicious!

Meatza Pizza(Yes folks, it truly looks that beautiful and delicious! I took this picture right after the Meatza came out of the oven!)

When I first discovered this recipe on Pinterest, I was very intrigued to try it out myself (but was very skeptical at the same time). Now, I will admit that I am not the best cook (yet), so I enlisted the help of my (very talented and sweet) neighbor who just happens to be a pro in the kitchen. My neighbor, Margie, and I (along with the help of her 10-year old grandson) made two Meatza Pizzas earlier this afternoon and we were all surprised by how easy it was to make them (and by how much fun we had while doing it)! Within an hour, the Meatzas were done and we couldn't believe the final product. Our Meatza Pizzas looks like regular pizzas! We could hardly wait to slice up one of the Meatza Pizzas and I for one was blown away by the amazing taste and texture! Even the 10-year old boy LOVED it!

Now if you don't believe me... try it yourself! Here is the recipe that started this whole "crazy" Meatza Pizza idea (from the talented Baker By Nature).

Marg. Meatza Pizza(Photo: BakerByNature)

As always, I made some minor modifications to her recipe, but you could really use any toppings you would like! Here are the modified ingredients that I used to make the Spinach and Tomato Meatza:

Ingredients

  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1 teaspoon garlic salt
  • 1 teaspoon onion powder
  • 1 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
  • 1.25 pounds extra-lean ground turkey mea
  • 1 teaspoon worcestershire sauce
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
  • 8 ounces shredded 2% mozzarella cheese
  • 1 cup tomato sauce
  • 10 Grape Tomatoessliced in half length-wise
  • 1/4 cup baby spinach, chopped

It's truly that simple! We baked the "crusts" for 15 minutes, put our toppings on, and put the Meatzas under the broiler for 5 minutes. Once they were cooled a bit, we sliced one Meatza into 8 slices and entered "Meatza Bliss" with our first bite!

Meatza Crust(The Meatza "crust" after baking for 15 minutes)

Slice of Meatza(The first bite of the first slice...mmmm)

Don't just take my word for it - try it out yourself. Like.....NOW! You're welcome :-)