Sausage, Sweet Potato, and Brussels Sprouts Bake

I haven’t been able to post recipes as quickly or as often as I would like to lately – my life has been so busy! Between work and plans with friends and family, it seems like I’ve been running around non-stop. So my recipes to share with you have been piling up! I made this yummy dish about 3 weeks ago. I based it off of this recipe, which I had made when I was doing Paleo and really liked it. Simple and delicious! This time I added Brussels sprouts and baked them with the sweet potatoes. It was so yummy and great for leftovers too! Feel free to switch it up with different spices and veggies too – it’s a very versatile dish.

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Sausage, Sweet Potato, and Brussels Sprouts Bake

Ingredients:

  • 1.25 lbs. chicken sausage, ground (or take links out of the casing and crumble)
  • 3 sweet potatoes, diced
  • 1 bag Brussels sprouts (about 20 sprouts), chopped
  • 1 cup chopped peppers and onions (I use frozen)
  • 4 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • Salt and pepper

Directions:

1.) Preheat oven to 375 F. Spray a large baking dish with oil and add the diced sweet potato and chopped sprouts. Drizzle with about 3 tbsp olive oil, season with salt and pepper, and bake for about 20-30 minutes, or until sweet potatoes are soft.

2.) Meanwhile, add 1 tbsp oil to a skillet or dutch oven over medium heat. Add the onions and peppers and cook until soft. Then add the sausage and cook until no longer pink.

3.) Add sausage, onion, and peppers mixture to the baking dish. Bake for another 5-10 minutes, stirring everything together. Season with any desired spices and serve hot.

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

Calories 356
Fat 19 g (1 g saturated)
Fiber 6 g
Carbs 23 g
Sodium 699 mg
Protein 24 g

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30 Days of Paleo: Complete!

So I haven’t posted in about two weeks, which feels like forever, due to a crazy whirlwind of school and work and friend/family events. I finished my 30 days of paleo on Oct. 6 and wanted to share my opinions about it.

Pros: I felt great and had a lot of energy. Obviously I felt this most in the first week or so, since my body was all excited that I wasn’t eating dairy or sugar. I also thought it was a relatively easy thing to follow even when eating out; as long as you can get steak/chicken/fish with veggies, you’re good! It’s not a diet that leaves you forced to get a salad. There were also so many great resources for recipes, so I was able to make a lot of paleo-friendly dinners, desserts, and breakfasts. I also looked much more closely at food labels, and feel like I became more aware of sources of hidden sugars!

Cons: Not sustainable, for me at least. Being a nutrition fanatic, I know that there are a lot of benefits to eating healthy dairy and grains, like yogurt, brown rice, etc. Obviously cutting these out helps you lose weight fast, but I felt like I was missing out on a lot of nutrients. It also was expensive; since it’s mostly meat and veggies, you have to buy a lot of those, as well as nuts, paleo flours (almond and coconut flours), etc. I missed being able to make healthy pasta and rice dishes that made a lot more food for a lot less money! Family/friend gatherings were also hard, since they usually had a lot of un-paleo (but delicious) snacks.

Overall, it was fun to try a new way of eating that wasn’t all about low-calorie or low-carbs. Paleo encourages lots of healthy fats and meat, which I love! But for me, it’s just not something I can sustain in the long run. I did, however, find some new recipes that I enjoyed and will try to incorporate some paleo meals here and there!

For my last paleo meal, I made this simple but delicious meal of broccoli, chicken, garlic, and sweet potato, drizzled with olive oil and baked. Easy but yummy!

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Paleo Coconut Cream Carrot Cake Bars

My 30 days of paleo is almost coming to an end! So before I finished I wanted to make another paleo treat, since the chocolate and coconut bites I made a couple weeks ago were delicious (but sadly gone). I had pinned this recipe and decided to replicate it over the weekend. I followed the recipe exactly, except that I decided to make them in my Pampered Chef brownie pan rather than a pie pan so I wouldn’t have to cut it (I’m lazy). So basically they are mini bars! They are also seriously delicious; the crust tastes just like carrot cake and the coconut cream layer has sort of an ice-creamy texture. And no baking required! I put all of the bars in a Tupperware and left them in the freezer, so I just take one out when I want a sweet treat! Each bar is relatively high in calories, but this is mostly from the nuts and coconut milk (good source of fat!) They are also pretty filling, so you certainly won’t need more than one! You could also cut the bars in half for a lower-calorie treat. Enjoy!

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Coconut Cream Carrot Cake Bars

Adapted from: The Diva Dish

Ingredients:

For the crust:

  • 3/4 cup shredded carrot (squeeze all the liquid/water out with a paper towel)
  • 6 pitted Medjool dates
  • 1 cup chopped walnuts
  • 1/4 cup unsweetened coconut

For the filling:

  • 1 1/2 cup soaked cashews (soaked in water for about an hour and then drained)
  • 1 tbsp vanilla
  • 1/2 cup coconut oil
  • 1/2 cup canned coconut milk (make sure you mix the milk in the can before measuring out the milk)
  • 1/2 cup maple syrup

Directions:

1.) Combine all crust ingredients in a food processor until all ingredients are fine and stick together when pressed down. Grease a pie pan or brownie pan with coconut oil spray, then press crust into pan with fingers until packed down.

2.) Combine all filling ingredients into a food processor. Blend until creamy and there are no lumps. Pour on top of prepared crust.

3.) Place in freezer for a few hours to set. Once it sets, remove the bars from the pan with a spatula (unfortunately they didn’t slide right out, but weren’t too hard to remove!) Put bars in a storage container and keep in the fridge or in the freezer for longer storage.

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

Calories 392
Fat 30 g (14 g saturated)
Fiber 3 g
Carbs 31 g
Sugars 26 g
Protein 6 g

Paleo Spaghetti and Meatballs

I decided to do a Paleo version of one of my favorites – spaghetti and meatballs! I had bought a spaghetti squash recently, had some fresh tomatoes, and decided I just needed to make some meatballs to go with it. I sort of made this recipe up, but it came out delicious and my boyfriend loved the meatballs (so they are man-approved as well). I also used the most phenomenal sauce I’ve ever tried: Newman’s Own “Sockarooni”. It has peppers, mushrooms, and tons of flavor. I know jar spaghetti sauces aren’t technically Paleo, but I tend to make things that are easy (because by the time I make dinner, I’m usually already hungry). I also baked the spaghetti squash the night before so that I only had to wait for the meatballs to cook. I’m too busy to sit around and make fancy dishes, but this one certainly tasted like I had slaved over it. Enjoy!

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Paleo Spaghetti and Meatballs

  • Servings: 5-6 (makes about 2 dozen meatballs)
  • Print

Ingredients:

  • 1 1/2 spaghetti squash (I baked one new squash and had spaghetti from half of one frozen)
  • 2 lbs. ground meat (I used 1 lb. lean ground turkey and 1 lb. ground Italian sausage)
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 tbsp. almond meal/flour
  • 2-3 large tomatoes, diced
  • 1 jar pasta sauce (about 24 oz.)
  • 2 tbsp. olive oil
  • 1 tbsp. minced garlic
  • Paprika (to taste)
  • Garlic powder (to taste)
  • Italian seasoning (to taste)
  • Cumin (to taste)
  • Salt and pepper (to taste)

Directions:

1.) Bake spaghetti squash (see step by step instructions here) and scrape “spaghetti” out of shells. Place onto paper towels on a colander/bowl and set aside.

2.) Combine ground meat, eggs, almond meal, and spices in a large bowl and mix by hand. Then roll into balls.

3.) Over medium heat, heat the olive oil and garlic in a large skillet. Then add the diced tomatoes and let simmer for a few minutes. My sauce came out a little watery (but thickened after standing), so maybe drain some of the tomato juices before cooking.

4.) Transfer the tomatoes to a large sauce pan or dutch oven over medium heat, leaving some of the olive oil/juices in the skillet. Add the jar of sauce to the pan/dutch oven and cover.

5.) Start adding the meatballs to the skillet to brown them. Flip them over when they start to get brown. You don’t want to cook them all the way through, just enough so that they keep their shape. You may have to do this in batches! Once browned, add them to the sauce pan/dutch oven.

6.) Let meatballs simmer in sauce for about 20 minutes, or until fully cooked. Ladle sauce and meatballs over spaghetti squash and enjoy! If I wasn’t eating Paleo I would top with Parmesan or mozzarella 🙂

Quick and Easy Paleo Crock Pot Chili!

Once again, my crock pot saves the day! I decided to paleo-fy my favorite chili recipe and it was allllmost as good. The key ingredient in my chili is beer, which I couldn’t add, and I also love beans, which aren’t paleo. But this one came out pretty darn good! And I just threw it all in the crockpot, stirred, and let sit on low for about 8 hours. Can’t get much easier than that. You can also tweak this to add any meat/veggies/spices you’d like!

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Paleo Crock Pot Chili

Ingredients:

  • 1 lb. ground turkey/beef
  • 1/2 lb. stew beef
  • Chopped peppers (approx. 2 peppers)
  • Chopped onion (approx. 1 onion)
  • Diced zucchini (approx. 1 zucchini)
  • Diced tomato (approx. 2 large tomatoes)
  • 1 packet chili seasoning (I found McCormick’s Tex Mex to be the only paleo blend at Walmart!)
  • 1 can tomato paste (12 oz.)
  • 1 can tomato sauce (14.5 oz)
  • 1/2 – 1 cup water/broth (I think I added too much water because mine came out a bit thin, so add water carefully!)
  • Cumin (to taste)

Directions:

1.) Add all ingredients to a crock pot, stir, and cook on high for about 4 hours or low for about 8 hours. Serve with your favorite toppings and enjoy!

Paleo Apple Cinnamon Muffins

I didn’t want to eat eggs every morning for my 30 days of paleo, so I was excited when I found this recipe for paleo muffins! It requires almond and coconut flour, so it’s a good gluten-free recipe as well. I was able to find these flours at Trader Joe’s. The muffins came out awesome and I don’t think anyone would be able to tell that they aren’t made with regular flour (although I haven’t shared any of them yet…) This recipe made 7 muffins and they came right out of the pan with just coconut oil spray! Can’t wait to try some of the other paleo muffins I have been pinning (pumpkin, gingerbread…) 🙂

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Paleo Apple Cinnamon Muffins

Adapted from: Ultimate Paleo Guide

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup almond flour/almond meal
  • 3 tablespoons coconut flour
  • 1 apple, diced (with skin)
  • 3 eggs, beaten
  • 1/4 cup honey
  • 1-2 tablespoons cinnamon (depending on how much you like cinnamon)
  • 1/4 cup coconut oil, melted
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda

Directions:

1.) Heat oven to 350 degrees.

2.) In a large mixing bowl add flours, cinnamon, and baking soda. Mix.

3.) Once mixed, add apples, eggs, honey, and coconut oil to mixture and mix well again.

4.) Prepare muffin tin with liners or coconut oil spray and add batter.

5.) Bake for 30 minutes or until done.

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

Calories 281
Fat 17 g (9 g saturated)
Fiber 5 g
Carbs 21 g
Sugars 14 g
Protein 8 g

Paleo Chocolate and Coconut Bites

So normally I don’t have a huge sweet tooth (unless a DQ Blizzard is within 100 feet of me). However, I think since I’ve been eating a lot of savory items this week (eggs, sausage, nuts, etc.) I suddenly developed a craving for something sweet besides fruit. Since I can’t have a granola bar or flavored almonds, my usual sweet craving go-tos, I found a recipe for little paleo “brownie” bites that looked really good. Last night I had some free time (a rare occurrence in my busy life) so I went to Trader Joe’s, got the food processor out, and made these bites. They were SO GOOD. To the point where I made my roommates try them and they wouldn’t have guessed that they were paleo, let alone that the key ingredient was dates. Something I had honestly never eaten before in my life, but it made them perfectly gooey and delicious. An important note: don’t forget to pit the dates! I almost did…but maybe they would have just been chopped up? Luckily, I didn’t have to find out. It made about 13 balls, so depending how big you roll them, you will probably have around the same. I rolled a few in coconut, put them in the fridge in a closed container, waited about 20 minutes, and they were perfect! Try not to eat them all at once 🙂

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Paleo Chocolate and Coconut Bites

 Adapted from: Our Paleo Life

Ingredients:

  • 1 1/3 cup Slivered Almonds
  • 11 pitted Medjool Dates
  • 1/4 cup Cocoa Powder
  • 1/4 cup Shredded Unsweetened Coconut
  • 1 tsp Pure Vanilla Extract
  • Water

Directions:

1.) Combine all ingredients (except water), in the order listed, in the bowl of a food processor. Process until mixture resembles coarse gravel.

2.) While the processor is running, add a thin stream of water, about ½ tsp. Stop the processor and check the mixture inside. If it sticks together when you smush it, then you’ve got the right consistency. If it’s still crumbly, add more water. You don’t want to add too much water because the bites will be too sticky!

3.)When you’ve got the right consistency, roll mixture into tablespoon-size balls. Roll in coconut, if desired. Store in the refrigerator.

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

Calories 157
Fat 8 g (1 g saturated)
Fiber 2 g
Carbs 18 g
Sugars 14 g
Protein 2 g