Busy Mom Chicken-Stuffed Peppers

I love my Fixate cookbook–I have a handful of recipes from it that I make all the time (Grandma’s Tomato Sauce and the Clean Eating Sloppy Joes are a couple of examples), and now there is a Fixate cooking show on Beachbody On-Demand that I watch every week to get new recipe ideas!  I was watching it last week and got reminded of this stuffed pepper recipe that is so good, but also a little involved and complicated.

On the show, Bobby Calabrese (the chef) mentioned that instead of buying chicken breasts and cutting them up into bite-sized pieces to cook, you could just get ground chicken to save some time and energy.  GENIUS!  I’m not sure I would ever have come up with that on my own, but it’s such a simple tip!

The original recipe calls for quinoa and corn, but I opted to leave those out because 1) I don’t really like corn, 2) I didn’t want that many carbs in this meal, and 3) I was being lazy and didn’t want to add quinoa.  If you love corn and don’t care too much about the extra carbs, feel free to add 1 cup cooked corn and 2 cups cooked quinoa to the filling when you add the black beans.

If you want to make this recipe even easier and quicker, you can skip the whole baking step and slice your peppers into large strips and use them as a chip alternative.  You could also skip the peppers altogether and just eat the filling alone, or in taco shells or with tortilla chips.  Check your grocery for pre-chopped onion and minced garlic in the jar.  That saves a few steps, as well!  Last, instead of chopping the cilantro I usually just tear it by hand as I add it to the dish and that is a lot faster, as well.

Enjoy!

Busy Mom’s Chicken-Stuffed Peppers (adapted from Fixate)–serves 4

4 bell peppers (any color), cut in half and seeds/ribs removed

2 tsp olive oil

1 medium onion, diced

2 cloves garlic, minced

1 lb ground chicken (can up this to 2 lbs to bulk up the filling if you prefer)

1 can black beans, drained and rinsed

1 tbsp cumin

2 tsp chili powder

1 tsp paprika

Salt, to taste (at least 1/4 tsp)

1 cup tomato sauce (I used plain canned tomato sauce, no salt or sugar added)

5 tbsp fresh cilantro, chopped

1 tbsp lime juice

Optional: 1 cup shredded monterey jack cheese

Optional: Hot sauce, to taste, for serving

Preheat oven to 375F. Place peppers skin side down on a baking dish (spray with cooking spray).  Set aside.

Heat oil in a large skillet over medium heat until hot.  Add onion and cook for 5-8 minutes, until soft and translucent, stirring frequently.  Add garlic and cook 1 minute, stirring constantly.  Add ground chicken, cumin, chili powder, paprika, and salt and cook, stirring frequently, until chicken is cooked all the way through and no longer pink.

Add tomato sauce, black beans, cilantro, and lime juice and reduce heat to medium low.  Stir together until all ingredients are fully mixed and heated through.  Remove from heat and turn heat off.

Scoop a heaping 1/2 cup of filling into each pepper half.  Cover with foil and bake for 35 minutes, until peppers are soft.  If desired, top each pepper with cheese and bake for 3-5 more minutes uncovered until cheese is melted.

Let cool about 5 minutes before serving. Top with hot sauce if desired.  Each serving is 2 pepper halves!

 

Gluten-Free Orange Cherry Muffins

One of my FAVORITE things about my online streaming workouts is the Fixate cooking show.  The 21 Day Fix creator Autumn Calabrese and her brother Bobby (who is a chef) share healthy, clean eating recipes that are so good!  I love looking every week at what new recipes they’ve come up with–they are always adventurous and something that I wouldn’t think of on my own, which makes it fun for me.  I’m actually working on a “Fixate Week” where I only eat Fixate recipes because I love it so much!

Last week I tried the Fixate Vegan Orange Cherry Muffins–I had some Cara Cara oranges I needed to use, and my son LOVES cherries, so I thought this would be a perfect experiment!  I ended up adjusting the recipe a little bit because I didn’t have all of the ingredients on hand, and I didn’t want to buy special ingredients I don’t normally use just to keep the muffins vegan (especially when I don’t really care that much about eating vegan).

Instead of using fresh cherries, I bought dried cherries (which are a little more tart than fresh, so if you go that route you might want to add a little more syrup for more sweetness).  I also swapped the flaxseed for a whole egg because I didn’t have flaxseed on hand and don’t normally use it (flaxseed is used as a binding ingredient to substitute eggs and is a great source of omega-3s).

These were really good! Next time I’ll use 100% orange juice because the fresh juice I had wasn’t quite enough.  I would love to try these with fresh cherries, so I’m keeping an eye out for cherries at my grocery as we get closer to summer!

For my Fix followers, each serving (1 muffin) is 1 yellow, 1/2 purple, 1/2 blue, and 1 1/2 tsp.

Fixate Orange Cherry Muffins (adapted from Fixate on Beachbody On Demand)

Makes 12 muffins

1 1/2 cups gluten free all purpose flour

1/2 cup almond flour

2 tsp baking powder

1/2 cup chopped walnuts

1/2 tsp sea salt or Himalayan salt

1/4 cup coconut oil

2 tbsp all natural creamy peanut butter

1/2 cup pure maple syrup

1 tbsp orange zest

3/4 cup orange juice

1 egg

1 large banana, thickly cut (about 1 cup of banana)

1 tsp pure vanilla extract

1/2 cup chopped cherries (fresh, frozen, or dried)

 

Preheat oven to 375 F. Line a muffin tin with paper liners and spray with baking spray.

Combine flours, baking powder, salt, and walnuts in a large bowl.  Mix well and set aside.

Put oil, peanut butter, maple syrup, orange zest, orange juice, egg, banana, and vanilla in a blender.  Mix for 30 seconds.

Add peanut butter mixture to flour mixture.  Mix just until moistened–do not overmix.

Fold in cherries to batter mixture until just mixed.

Using a 1/4 cup measuring cup, spoon batter into lined muffin tin (1/4 cup for each muffin).

Bake muffins for 18 minutes, until tops are lightly browned and toothpick comes out clean from the center of muffin.

Remove from oven and cool for 5 minutes in pan.  Remove muffins from pan and allow to cool completely on a wire rack.

These kept well in an airtight container on the counter.  They only lasted a few days before we ate them all, but would probably be fine for about 5-7 days. You could also put baked muffins in the freezer and reheat them in the microwave.

Enjoy!

 

 

Gluten-Free Pancakes

I’ve found a great gluten-free waffle recipe, so I wanted to find a great gluten-free pancake recipe, too!  We love eating breakfast together in my house, and it’s so special to have my little man help me make waffles, pancakes, or french toast and then enjoy the fruits of our labor together.

This was the first gluten-free pancake recipe I tried, and it was great!  The original recipe called for buttermilk, which I didn’t have on hand, so I subbed in equal parts plain greek yogurt and milk.  The original recipe calls for blueberries, but you could use any kind of fruit or choose to leave fruit out of the batter and just top the pancakes with fresh fruit and pure maple syrup.

I used a 1/3 cup measuring cup to scoop out the batter, and it made 4 medium-large pancakes.

Enjoy!

Gluten-Free Pancakes (slightly adapted from Bakepedia)

  • 1 cup Bob’s Red Mill 1-to-1 Gluten-Free Baking Flour
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup buttermilk OR 1/2 cup plain Greek yogurt+1/2 cup milk)
  • 1 large egg
  • 2 tablespoons coconut oil (for the pan)

Combine all ingredients except the oil.  Mix until completely combined, but not completely smooth.

Heat a skillet on medium-low heat.  Melt oil on skillet.  Use a 1/4- or 1/3-cup measuring cup to spoon batter onto skillet.  Cook for 3-4 on one side until bubbly.  Flip and cook 1-2 more minutes until golden brown.  Top with fresh berries and pure maple syrup.

 

 

Super Simple Baked Potato Fries

One of the parts of Whole30 I was looking forward to the least was the fact that the only carb I was going to be able to eat were potatoes.  Sweet potatoes, white potatoes.  That’s it.  I was a full-blown carb addict, so this wasn’t something I looked forward to.  But honestly, I loved it.  I had yummy potatoes every single day, and I never missed the other carbs!  Seriously.  I wouldn’t have believed it if I didn’t live it myself.

Potatoes are actually a great carb option because they don’t mess with your blood sugar in the same way breads and other carbs do, and it’s PACKED with some awesome nutrients.  It’s a carb that actually does your body good, and I’m planning on continuing to use potatoes (especially sweet potatoes) as my main carb of choice.

This recipe is how I fixed my potatoes most of the time, and how I continue to fix them!  This was great with sweet potatoes and white potatoes alike.  Plus, you can switch out the dressing for regular olive oil, melted coconut oil, or melted ghee and it’s just as delicious!

Super Simple Baked Potato Fries

1 medium potato, peeled and sliced into fries

1 tbsp Tessemae’s Lemon Garlic Dressing (or oil of choice)

1 tsp sea salt

Black pepper to taste

Preheat oven to 425 F.  Toss all ingredients together until all fries are completely coated.  Spread fries in one layer (preferably not touching each other) on a large cookie sheet lined with parchment paper).  Bake in oven for 15-20 minutes, until browned and crispy (or your desired doneness).  Enjoy!

***I don’t personally love leftover potatoes, but you can make a huge batch and keep them in the fridge for a few days if you want.

Everyday (Paleo) Meatloaf

My husband LOVES his momma’s meatloaf.  I have never really been a huge fan of meatloaf in general, but I’ve tried several different recipes that haven’t been a traditional recipe to find something that he and I could both enjoy.  None of them have been hits with him, though, so I just haven’t made meatloaf in a really long time.  When I saw this recipe looking for Paleo meals, I knew I had to try it because I was pretty sure it would be a hit with everyone!

I am so glad I tried it, because I was right!  This is so simple and SO GOOD.  The original recipe calls for 1 cup almond meal and 2 eggs, but I went for the note of omitting the almond meal and just using 1 egg.  The original also calls for 6 tbsp tomato paste, which I didn’t have on hand, so I used some leftover marinara on top instead.  It was so good!

I’d love to try to add a few more veggies into this recipe to bulk up the veggies, but I may have to work up to that so my husband doesn’t know what I’m up to!

Everyday Meatloaf (slightly adapted from Everyday Paleo by Sarah Fragoso)

2 lbs lean ground beef

1 egg

2 tsp minced garlic

1 red onion, finely diced

1/2 tbsp sea salt

2 tsp black pepper

2 tbsp dried basil

2 tsp marjoram

1/2 cup marinara

Preheat oven to 350 F. Combine all ingredients (except marinara) in a large bowl, using hand to combine until well mixed.  Put meat mixture in a lightly greased 9×13 glass pan and form into loaf.  Bake 30 min.  Top meatloaf with marinara, using a spoon to spread evenly over the top of the entire loaf.  Bake 30 more min or until meatloaf is completely cooked through (use an instant read thermometer to ensure it’s completely cooked–ground beef should be cooked to an internal temp of 160).  Remove from oven and let rest for 10 min before serving.

I served this with green beans and homemade sweet potato fries!  It would go well with basically any veggie.

 

Meal Plan 3.27-4.2

It’s my first full week post-Whole30 and I’m so excited!!!!  It’s so freeing to know how foods make me feel and to be empowered to make good choices.  Here are a list of meals I’m planning on this week, in no particular order:

Paleo Meatloaf (from Everyday Paleo by Sarah Fragoso)

Garlic Bacon Avocado Burgers

Paleo Mexican Chicken Soup

Broccoli Cashew Chicken

I’m leaving a lot of space here for leftovers and potential eating out days.  I’d rather need to go to the store again during the week than have way too much food!

I’m also going to make gluten-free blueberry pancakes for breakfasts as I venture back into eating non-gluten grains, as well as experiment with adding oats back into my daily Shakeology like I used to do to see how it affects my body and how I feel.

I’m keeping avocados and fresh veggies like carrot, cauliflower, and sweet peppers around for snacking and as fresh, healthy sides for my meals.

For my fitness plan, I’m still following Insanity Max:30 for another week and a half, so I’ve got intense, 3o-min workouts Monday-Friday and rest days each weekend.  It’s getting close enough to the end of the program that I’m starting to wonder about what I should do next!  I never thought I’d be so committed to such a long program, and I’m really proud of myself for doing it.  I’ll have to evaluate how much closer I am to my goals on day 60 to know what my next steps should be.

What are you planning on for food and fitness this week?  I’d love to hear your meal plans, too!

 

 

Whole30 Results and Post-Whole30 Plans

Well, I did it!  I made it all 30 days of a strict, clean eating diet.  It was HARD.  I suffered through some sugar withdrawals, I had to take some extra time to prepare more food than I normally do, I had to think ahead a LOT more when I went to events and bring my own food, and I had to sit and watch other people enjoy foods that I wanted to eat, but had committed to not eating for 30 days.  Even on day 29 a few days ago, I thought about throwing in the towel and giving up!  Isn’t that crazy with just one day to go???  But I remembered what I had read on the Whole30 Timeline on their website–I committed to all 30 days, and I OWED it to myself to finish all 30 days!

I am so proud of myself.  Not only have I stuck to the Whole30 program (plus Shakeology), but I’ve also stuck to my workout plan as well.  This past 30 days has really been an exercise in self-discipline; I knew that my relationship with food had gotten really unhealthy and dysfunctional, and I needed something strict and structured to make that better to be the healthiest person I can be.  And I did it! There were days that I wasn’t sure I would make it, to be honest, but I was dedicated and committed.  I kept reminding myself about why I was doing it in the first place, and the benefits I’d be getting from being disciplined.  2 Timothy 1:7 was my mantra: “For God has not given us a spirit of fear and timidity, but a spirit of power, love, and SELF-DISCIPLINE.”  I knew that I could do it and that I NEEDED to do it, and I powered through with some prayers!

I have seen some amazing results through these past 30 days.

  • my acid reflux has gone from being a daily/nightly issue to virtually disappearing
  • my skin is clearer
  • my energy levels are up
  • I’m more satisfied with smaller amounts of food (because they are so nutrient-dense)
  • my cravings for desserts have pretty much disappeared
  • I am not using food as a coping mechanism for my stress/emotions
  • my midsection is flatter
  • I have less digestive issues
  • I don’t look pregnant after eating 1 meal
  • I have much less bloating in general
  • I got a cold and was only sick for a couple of days instead of the 5-7 days I would normally be feeling terrible
  • my patience and moodiness is better
  • my clothes are fitting so much better
  • my confidence is much higher than a month ago
  • my anxiety is much much better
  • my cravings for carbs have been almost non-existent!
  • My body image is better
  • My self-esteem overall is better
  • I’m not using the scale to measure my success with my health goals–the emotional attachment to whatever number it says is gone
  • I don’t wake up in the middle of the night anymore–once I’m asleep I STAY asleep
  • I haven’t been getting “hangry” even if I go 4-5 hours between meals
  • I’m not constantly hungry all day anymore
  • I’m reading the labels on my food and looking up ingredients at restaurants to know exactly what I’m putting into my body
  • I’m making mindful, intentional decisions about what foods I’ll eat instead of making mindless, emotional decisions
  • I have new, healthy recipes to add to my family’s rotation
  • I FEEL BETTER!

I lost about 7 lbs in my 30 days, plus a little over an inch from my waist and hips!


Several people have asked me, okay, that’s great you feel are feeling awesome–but what’s next?   Whole30 is not intended to be an all-the-time way of eating, but an experience to help you make mindful choices about how different foods affect your body, both positive and negative, so you can decide what will be healthy staples in your diet, what indulgences are worth it for you and how often you want to incorporate them into your life, and which foods just simply aren’t worth it for you.

With all that in mind, I’ve decided that going forward, I’ll be following a mostly Paleo diet.  This is similar to Whole30, but I’m relaxing a little with the “no added sugar” ever to make it simpler to get everything I need at my grocery store and to make it simpler to eat out with my family.  I will definitely be avoiding gluten and soy, and limiting dairy to just Greek yogurt.  I’m still in the reintroduction phase of Whole30, so some of this plan is up in the air as I wait to see how these different food groups affect me.  But if I’m feeling this good without all these foods, why would I want to go back to the way I used to eat????  That makes no sense to me.  Food is fuel, not comfort or celebration or self-worth, and I want to keep treating it as such.

So, I’m prepping for a Paleo/gluten-free lifestyle and keeping my options open with dairy, legumes, and non-gluten grains to see how my body reacts to them as I reintroduce them.  Overall, the main goal for this experience for me was to improve my dysfunctional relationship with food–to stop using food as a coping mechanism and source of comfort–and staying away from sugary sweets and gluten will help me continue this healthier relationship with food.  I’m not struggling with cravings, and I want to keep it that way!

I was afraid of Whole30 for a really long time–over a year, in fact.  I avoided making this commitment because I was afraid that it would be too hard and that I would fail.  But now that I’ve actually done it (!!!), I wish I had started this sooner.  God does not intend for us to be a slave to food and our food cravings–He wants to set us free from that!  If you are struggling with these issues like I was, take heart that YOU CAN change it.  I’d love to be a part of your journey to food freedom!  Comment or email me to start chatting about a transformation.