Creamy Sun-Dried Tomato Chicken with Spaghetti Squash

Happy Thursday! This has somehow been a snow storm-free week (knock on wood), only about an inch of flurries. This is so exciting! I’m so ready for this winter to be over. Luckily, in 25 days I will be heading to Myrtle Beach and then to spend the week in Asheville, NC with my sister and brother-in-law. Here’s hoping the time flies! ūüôā

I mentioned a few posts ago that I was nervous to try kickboxing. But…I loved it! Tonight will be my third class and I¬†can’t wait. It’s an hour long ¬†workout, and you get REALLY sweaty, but it’s also a lot of fun and goes by fast. Each class is a little different so you definitely get a good workout, as well as learning some boxing skills. I’m always sore the next day! Unfortunately I can only do one class a week at this point, but I am hoping to go more often once my schedule slows down in a few months.

This week I decided to lighten up¬†a creamy¬†pasta dish¬†that a friend posted on Facebook. I already had a spaghetti squash, so rather than make it with pasta I just used that. The sauce came out so good!¬†I¬†imagine it would¬†also be delicious on its own with just the chicken and a side of veggies, or even with shrimp. I’ll have to try out some other variations and report back!

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Creamy Sun-Dried Tomato Chicken with Spaghetti Squash

Adapted from: Julia’s Album

Ingredients:

  • 3-4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 small jar (3-4 oz) sun-dried tomatoes (I used dried, could also use tomatoes in oil)
  • 4 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 lb chicken breast tenderloins
  • 1 bag spinach (about 8 cups)
  • 1 cup unsweetened almond milk
  • 3/4 cup part-skim mozzarella cheese, shredded
  • 1/4 cup cream cheese (I used Greek cream cheese!)
  • 8 cups spaghetti squash (or 8 oz pasta)
  • 1 tbsp basil
  • 1/4 tsp salt

Directions:

1.) Bake spaghetti squash (directions here) and let cool. Or, cook pasta and drain.

2.) In a large pan, on medium-high heat, saute garlic and tomatoes in 2 tbsp oil for about 1 min. Add spinach, in bunches, and add an additional 2 tbsp oil. Cook until spinach is wilted, then remove spinach and tomatoes from pan (leaving oil). Cut tomatoes into smaller pieces.

3.) Add chicken to the pan, reduce heat to medium, and cook until chicken is done. Then cut chicken into small pieces and add back in the tomatoes and spinach.

4.) Add milk and cheeses and bring to a gentle boil. Reduce to simmer and cook, stirring, until all cheese melts and sauce is creamy. Then stir in 1 tbsp basil and remove from heat. Serve over squash/pasta and enjoy!

Nutrition Info (Per serving, from My Fitness Pal):

Calories 488
Fat 21 g (5 g saturated)
Fiber 8 g
Carbs 38 g
Sodium 586 mg
Protein 41 g

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Skinny Chicken Enchiladas

So once¬†again, we started off the week snowed in! We are running out of places to put it all, so¬†I’m ready for it to¬†stop any time now. I’m also getting tired of shoveling and my car sliding all over the place. Is it summer yet? At least it’s given me some time to whip up some new recipes!

Yet¬†again I looked to The Skinnytaste Cookbook for inspiration, and once I saw these enchiladas I looked no further. Yummy Mexican food…but better for you…need I say more? These were delicious and the recipe made 8 enchiladas, so I froze half to enjoy another time – win win! I made a side of Mexican rice to go with them and it was the perfect meal.

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Skinny Chicken Enchiladas

Adapted From: The Skinnytaste Cookbook

Ingredients:

  • 1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 cup onion, chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1/2 cup tomato or marinara sauce
  • 1/3 cup reduced-sodium chicken broth
  • 10-12 oz chicken breast tenderloins, cooked and shredded
  • 1/4 cup plus 1 tbsp fresh cilantro, chopped
  • 1 tsp chili powder
  • 1 tbsp cumin
  • 1 tsp Italian seasoning
  • 3/4 tsp salt
  • Cooking spray
  • 8 whole-wheat tortillas
  • 1 1/2 cups enchilada sauce
  • 1 cup shredded reduced-fat Mexican cheese
  • Fat-free plain Greek yogurt, guacamole, or other toppings (optional)

Directions:

1.) Preheat oven to 400 F. Heat olive oil over low heat in a skillet or Dutch oven. Add the onion and garlic and cook until soft, stirring frequently.

2.) Add the tomato sauce, chicken broth, cooked chicken, 1/4 cup of cilantro, seasonings, and salt. Simmer for about 5 minutes and remove from heat.

3.) Spray a 13×9 glass baking dish with cooking spray. Put about 1/3 cup of chicken mixture into each tortilla, roll them up, and place seam side down in baking dish.

4.) Pour enchilada sauce over the enchiladas and sprinkle with the cheese. Cover the dish with foil and bake for about 25 minutes, or until cheese is melted. Serve enchiladas with a side of Mexican rice (recipe below) and top with Greek yogurt, guacamole, avocado, etc. and enjoy!

Nutrition Info (Per enchilada, without toppings, from My Fitness Pal):

Calories 302
Fat 12 g (2 g saturated)
Fiber 5 g
Carbs 31 g
Sodium 785 mg
Protein 20 g

Mexican Rice

Ingredients:

  • 2 cups brown rice, cooked
  • 1 cup frozen corn (I used roasted corn from Trader Joe’s)
  • 1 tsp cumin
  • 1 tbsp fresh cilantro, chopped

Directions:

1.) Mix all ingredients together in a bowl. Serve warm as a side for the enchiladas!

Nutrition Info (Per serving, from My Fitness Pal):

Calories 141
Fat 2 g (0 g saturated)
Fiber 3 g
Carbs 29 g
Sodium 0 mg
Protein 4 g

Spaghetti Squash with Sausage, Spinach, and Creamy Butternut Sauce

Happy Friday! This has been quite a week here in New England with the¬†“Blizzard of 2015″…we got about 2 feet of snow! However, we ended up having a lot of fun during the storm playing charades, making a big breakfast, watching some movies, and playing football in the snow. I also got to do a good amount of cooking and baking!

The night before the storm, I headed to the grocery store to make sure I had everything I needed to¬†cook some stuff while I was snowed in. This ended up being the perfect dish for a cold and snowy night!¬†I¬†also appreciated not having to rush through cooking it, and having the time to experiment a bit, since¬†I had a much-needed¬†rest from my busy schedule this week. I also made some yummy no-bake bars – that recipe will be up soon (have to eat dinner before dessert, right?) Enjoy! ūüôā

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Spaghetti Squash with Sausage, Spinach, and Creamy Butternut Sauce

Adapted From: Skinnytaste

Ingredients:

  • 4 links Italian chicken sausage
  • 1 1/2 lbs butternut squash, peeled and diced (or pre-cooked cubes, I found them at Walmart!)
  • 1 tbsp Earth Balance or other buttery spread
  • 1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil (plus 1/4 tbsp for brushing/spraying onto squash before baking)
  • 6 cups cooked spaghetti squash (about 4.5-5 lb raw squash)
  • 1/2 cup diced onion
  • 4 cloves minced garlic
  • 4 cups baby spinach
  • 1/2 cup milk (I used unsweetened almond)
  • 1/2 cup sharp cheddar cheese, shredded
  • Salt, black pepper, and chili powder, to taste

Directions:

1.) Cook spaghetti squash (instructions here). Scrape into a large bowl/strainer lined with paper towels and set aside.

2.) Bring a pot of salted water to a boil, then add raw butternut squash and cook until soft. Or heat pre-cooked cubes in microwave for about a minute to soften them. Then add squash to a food processor or blender and blend until smooth. Add milk and blend again until creamy, adding salt and pepper (if desired).

3.) In a large skillet, melt 1 tbsp butter and 1 tbsp olive oil over medium heat. Saute onions and garlic for a few minutes, then add in the chicken sausage and brown. Add in spinach, one handful at a time, until it fully wilts.

4.) Add creamy butternut sauce to the skillet and mix everything together. Add in cheddar cheese and stir, then season with salt, pepper, and chili powder, if desired.

5.) Divide spaghetti squash among 5 bowls/containers and then top each with sauce mixture until it’s evenly divided.

Nutrition Info (Per serving, from My Fitness Pal):

Calories 311
Fat 15 g (4 g saturated)
Fiber 5 g
Carbs 33 g
Sodium 548 mg
Protein 17 g

Sweet Potato Shepherd’s Pie!

I will start by saying I love shepherd’s pie. I always have. How can you not love beef, mashed potatoes, corn, and gravy, all in one dish?! My mom also once made it with garlic mashed potatoes, and that just took it to another level. My mouth is watering just thinking about it. However, that’s really the only way that we’ve ever changed¬†it up. I mean, why mess with a delicious meal? Well, you know me, I like to make everything all healthy and nutritious (but still delicious!) ūüôā

I found a recipe for sweet potato shepherd’s pie from Tried and Tasty¬†on Pinterest. How had I never thought of using sweet potato before? Genius. I was a little iffy about using tomato sauce instead of gravy, since that seems like a much different flavor from my usual shepherd’s pie. But it got rave reviews, and it was covered in cheese, so I gave it a try. And it was so yummy, and pretty¬†low-cal! I can’t really describe why the flavor worked, but it did. So trust me and give it a try! Next time I may see if I can make my mom’s trusted version with sweet potato but substitute a lighter gravy or something. But that’s a challenge for another day. Enjoy this one!

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Sweet Potato Shepherd's Pie

Adapted from: Tried and Tasty

Ingredients:

  • 1.25 lb ground turkey (I used 93% lean)
  • 1/2 med. onion, diced
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 tbsp¬†garlic powder
  • 1¬†tbsp Italian seasoning
  • 1 (15.25 oz) can of corn, drained
  • 1 (14.5 oz) can of sliced carrots, drained
  • 1 (15 oz.) can tomato sauce
  • 3 med.¬†sweet potatoes, cubed (about 1.6 lbs)
  • 2/3¬†cup shredded cheddar cheese (I used 1/3 cup sharp cheddar and 1/3 cup reduced-fat mild cheddar)

Directions:

1.) Preheat oven to 350. In a medium pot, boil sweet potato cubes until soft; approx. 10-15 minutes (depending on the size of your cubes).

2.) While sweet potatoes are boiling, heat olive oil on medium-high in a large pan and saute onions until translucent; 3-5 minutes. Add ground turkey; brown and season with garlic powder and Italian seasoning.

3.) Add corn, carrots, and tomato sauce. Heat throughout.

4.) Once potatoes have softened, drain all water and mash.¬†Spoon meat mixture into the bottom of a casserole dish (or 2 8×8 pans) and cover with prepared mashed potatoes.

5.) Sprinkle with shredded cheese and bake for 15-20 minutes until cheese is melted.

**I made this in 2 8×8 aluminum pans, rather than a casserole dish, because I wanted to freeze half. So I put one in the freezer before baking and without cheese, that way I could put it right in the oven some other busy week! Each 8×8 pan was 3 servings.

Nutrition Info (Per serving, from My Fitness Pal):

Calories 375
Fat 12 g (4 g saturated)
Fiber 8.5 g
Carbs 44 g
Sodium 634 mg
Protein 27 g

Whole Wheat Pasta with Sausage, Kale, and Red Pepper

I suppose I should start by saying, yes, I am alive…I haven’t posted in almost a month! Life has been crazy with work and school and all sorts of other things, so cooking new recipes has fallen on the backburner. I’ve been making lots of easy dishes that I’ve already posted on here, just because I haven’t had time to be adventurous. But this week I found time!

A few weeks ago I purchased the Skinnytaste Cookbook, which was written by Gina Homolka, the genius behind the Skinnytaste blog. I’ve always loved her recipes because she lightens up meals but still makes them taste amazing! She also makes a lot of Italian food lighter, which is a favorite of mine. You should definitely pick up her cookbook; everything looks mouth-wateringly good and there are appetizers, entrees, desserts, the whole 9 yards! I’ve been meaning to start making some of her recipes but hadn’t had time, so this week I found one that was quick and easy but looked delicious (and it was). Here it is!

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Whole Wheat Pasta with Sausage, Kale, and Red Pepper

Adapted from The Skinnytaste Cookbook by Gina Homolka

Ingredients:

  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 medium onion, diced
  • 1 medium red bell pepper, diced
  • 5 garlic cloves, minced
  • 20 oz (6 links) Italian turkey sausage, casings removed
  • 6 cups baby kale**
  • 13.25 oz (1 box) whole wheat pasta (I used rotini)
  • 1/4 cup grated parmesan cheese
  • salt, pepper, red pepper flakes (to taste)

Directions:

1.) Bring large pot of water to a boil. Cook pasta until al dente. Reserve 1 cup of the pasta water.

2.) Heat a large skillet over medium heat. Heat olive oil, then add onion, bell pepper, and garlic. Cook until soft, then add the sausage, breaking it into small pieces. Cook until sausage is lightly browned.

3.) Add in baby kale and cover the skillet. Cook for 2-3 minutes. Uncover, stir, and cook until kale is wilted.

**Use baby kale or cut the “stem” off regular kale! I had never cooked with kale before and I just used regular kale without cutting it, and the stem tastes bitter. So don’t make my mistake!

4.) Add cooked pasta to the skillet (or use a big pot if the skillet isn’t big enough). Turn to medium-high heat. Mix everything together and add 1/3 of the pasta water and stir. Add more water if it seems dry.

5.) Add parmesan, salt, pepper, and red paper, to taste, mixing everything together. Serve and top with a sprinkle of cheese!

Nutrition Info (Per serving, from My Fitness Pal):

Calories 418
Fat 8 g (1 g saturated)
Fiber 7 g
Carbs 59 g
Sodium 858 mg
Protein 30 g

Sausage and Sweet Potato with Peppers and Onions

I will start off by saying this is the first time I’ve cooked sweet potato. Which is probably surprising, because everyone loves it and it’s good for you and as a future dietitian I should certainly be eating some sweet potato. However, I’ve always hated things that are sweet but should be salty, i.e. sweet potato fries, kettle corn. Therefore I tried hating sweet potato for awhile, but recently became more open to sweet potato fries (with salt and ketchup, of course). Since fries are not remotely healthy, and regular potatoes are not paleo, I decided I needed to try sweet potatoes in another dish. I found this recipe on Pinterest and tweaked it a bit; the result was DELICIOUS. I am now on the sweet potato train. It was awesome with the sausage, peppers, and onions, since it added some sweetness. I used mild Italian sausage, but my boyfriend said the sweet potato would have paired better with spicy sausage…I’m also not super adventurous with spice, but I made a bold move with the sweet potato and it worked, so who knows! Maybe I’ll start eating everything with ghost peppers someday (probably not). Anyways, enjoy this easy and yummy recipe!

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Sausage and Sweet Potato with Peppers and Onions

Adapted from: Infertility Thou Art A Heartless B!&@#

Ingredients:

  • 1.25 lbs. Italian sausage, ground (or take links out of the casing and crumble)
  • 3 sweet potatoes (I got 2 large ones and a small one)
  • Chopped peppers and onions (I use frozen, so however much you would like)
  • Olive oil
  • Salt and pepper
  • Crushed red pepper (optional)

Directions:

1.) Brown the sausage on a skillet with a little olive oil; set aside in a bowl.

2.) Meanwhile, peel and dice the sweet potatoes.

3.) Using same skillet, heat olive oil on medium heat and cook peppers and onions until slightly soft. Then add sweet potato, stir everything together, and cover skillet with foil. Lower heat to medium low (about 4) and cook for about 15-20 minutes, stirring occasionally, until sweet potatoes are soft.

4.) Mix sausage in, add salt and pepper (to taste) and crushed red pepper (optional). Let cook for about 2 minutes. Serve and enjoy! (I garnished with parsley from our garden, but you don’t need that).

Lightened-up Chicken Divan!

This is yet another recipe that I’m shocked I haven’t posted, since it’s easy and delicious and a favorite of mine. It’s actually the first recipe my friend Laura taught me to make when I moved out on my own (and now I live with her!) She taught me to make it, from start to finish, and it was awesome. Over time I have tweaked it a bit to make it healthier and even easier; I love a meal that I can make quickly when I get home and am starving and in need of something in my belly RIGHT NOW. I also love a good combo of chicken, cheese, and broccoli (better get it out of my system before I start eating Paleo…) I make this whole thing in my Dutch oven so I can go right ¬†from stove top¬†to oven¬†with¬†much less clean up!

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Lightened-up Chicken Divan

Ingredients:

  • 1 pound chicken breast tenderloins
  • 1 bag frozen, steamable broccoli (about 12 oz.)
  • 4¬†cups brown rice
  • about 2 cups shredded cheese (any kind! I used Mozzarella and Pepper Jack)
  • about 1 cup milk (I use almond)
  • about 2 tbsp. organic butter
  • about 1/4 cup flour
  • salt and pepper, to taste

Directions:

1.) Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Make a roux by melting the butter over medium heat on the stove top, then start adding flour until it gets to a cookie dough-like consistency.

2.) Add¬†a little of the milk and cheese, stirring. Keep adding milk and cheese until you have your desired amount of sauce, making sure to crush up the “clumps” of flour/butter from the roux. The sauce should be sort of thick, because it will thin a bit when you bake. Make as much sauce as you’d like by adding more milk and cheese (I always say you can’t have too much sauce!) Take off heat.

2.) While¬†you’re making the cheese sauce, put the bag of broccoli in the microwave and steam per package instructions. If you are using fresh broccoli, steam until soft.

3.) Add the broccoli and raw chicken to the cheese sauce and stir together. Add salt and pepper to season. Bake for 30 minutes, or until chicken is done and sauce is bubbly.

4.) While the dish is baking, cook four cups of brown rice according to package directions. Serve the cheesy chicken and broccoli mixture over the rice and enjoy!

**Note: I realize that this is still a very cheesy dish, so it may not be the most lightened-up, healthiest recipe that I’ve ever made. However, it’s a good “indulgence” meal that I have lightened-up significantly from the original version. I’m sure it can be toned down even more, but this version I have found to taste great while still being somewhat good for your waistline. But tips for making it even better are welcome!