Grown-Up Mac n’ Cheese

grownupmacncheese2Grown-Up Mac ‘n Cheese
  • 2 cups (8 oz.) gluten-free/whole-wheat penne
  • 1 lb. spinach leaves, trimmed
  • ¼ cup olive oil or butter
  • ¼ cup all-purpose flour/gluten-free all-purpose flour
  • 2 cups fat-free milk/soy milk
  • ½ cup plus 2 Tbs. grated Parmesan cheese/Daiya cheese
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced (2 tsp.)
  • ¼ tsp. ground nutmeg, optional
  • Optional toppings: chopped tomatoes, hot sauce, scallions, etc.

the method:

  1. Cook penne according to package directions. Drain, and set aside.
  2. Heat large pot over medium-high heat. Add spinach, and cook 2 to 3 minutes, or until wilted, stirring with tongs to cook all leaves. Drain, and press out any excess liquid. Coarsely chop wilted spinach, and set aside.grownupmacncheese1
  3. Heat oil in large saucepan over medium heat. Whisk in flour, and cook 2 minutes, stirring constantly. Gradually whisk in milk, and cook 5 minutes, or until sauce has thickened, whisking constantly. Remove from heat, then add penne, spinach, 1/2 cup Parmesan, garlic, and nutmeg, if using, to sauce, and stir until well coated. Season with salt and pepper, if desired. Transfer to prepared baking dish, sprinkle remaining 2 Tbs. Parmesan over mixture, and bake 45 minutes to 1 hour, or until top is browned.Preheat oven to 350°F. Coat 11- x 9-inch baking dish with cooking spray.

Meatless Monday: Simple Tempeh Tacos (V)(GF)

tempeh-tacosWho doesn’t LOVE 15-minute meals on a Monday?? You’re welcome in advance.

Tempeh Tacos (V)(GF)
2 tbsp avocado oil (or any high-temp cooking oil)
1 onion, diced
1 package tempeh, sliced into 1/2 inch cubes
1 tbsp tamari
1 tsp cumin
1/4 cup fresh chopped cilantro
other taco fillings such as lettuce, tomatoes, lime juice
corn tortillas or taco shells
lime wedges for serving

The method:

  1. Sautee the onion in olive oil for 3 to 5 minutes, or until onion is soft.
  2. Add tempeh/chicken, gf soy sauce and cumin. Allow to cook for about five more minutes, stirring frequently. Remove from heat and stir in the cilantro.
  3. Fill your taco shells or tortillas with the protein mixture mixture and top with lime juice, lettuce, tomatoes, salsa or if desired.

Rainbow Chopped Salad (V)(GF)

rainbow1Rainbow Chopped Salad (V)(GF)
the salad ingredients:
large head of romaine
15 oz. can black beans, rinsed and drained
1 large orange bell pepper, seeded and chopped
1 pint cherry tomatoes, chopped
1/2 english cucumber, chopped
2 cups corn
1/2 red onion, chopped
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Cilantro-Avocado Dressing (V)(GF)
the dressing ingredients:
1 cup loosely packed cilantro, stems removed and roughly chopped
1 avocado, smashed
2 Tbsp. fresh lime juice (about 1/2 lime), more to taste
1 to 2 garlic cloves
1/4 cup avocado oil (or olive oil)
1 1/2 tsp. white wine vinegar1 tsp. agave nectar
1/8 tsp. salt

the method:

  1. Make the dressing: puree all ingredients in a food processor/blender until smooth. Taste and adjust seasonings if necessary.
  2. Finely chop romaine, bell pepper, tomatoes and onion.
  3. Place all ingredients in a large bowl and stir to combine.
  4. Toss with desired dressing and serve.

 

Pretty (and YUMMY!) Fruit Salad

fruitThere is something about these hot, HOT Arizona summers that just get me in the mood for a crisp, refreshing fruit salad.

When I was little and still living in New Jersey, my grandparents used to take us to pick strawberries on those humid summer days. We would make fruit salads, desserts or just eat those succulent berries all by themselves. Ahhh the good old days.

I pulled this recipe from one of my favorite down-to-earth chefs – Ree Drummond 9aka the Pioneer Woman). I realize she makes hearty, cowboy recipes that aren’t exactly the healthiest things to put in our bodies, but she will throw in a salad or fruit dish every now and then.

Her recipe calls for a sugar and water mixture to sweeten the recipe up, but I just like to use to some freshly-squeezed orange juice to kick up the antioxidants and Vitamin C levels.

This dish would make a great dessert or side dish as any BBQ. In fact, I’m eating it right now for breakfast!

Enjoy!

Pretty Fruit Salad:

The ingredients:

  • 1 green apple, cubed
  • 1 pint of strawberries, chopped
  • 1 cup blueberries
  • 1 cup raspberries
  • 2 kiwis, peeled and chopped
  • 1 orange, juiced
  • A couple of mint leaves, chopped

The method:

Combine all ingredients in a bowl and toss together. Refrigerate until cold and serve. Great as leftovers!

Quinoa “Mac n’ Cheese”

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I LOVE quinoa. Nick hates it. Well – hate is a strong word, so let’s just say it’s not his “favorite.” My cooking mantra is: If it doesn’t taste good, put cheese on it.  Most of the time, this mantra works… especially in this case. If you love mac n’ cheese but want to make it a little healthier by adding protein and cutting carbs, then this recipe is for you. I paired it with some savory grilled tofu (Nick made chicken with the same marinade) and my Crispy Lemon Roasted Brussels Sprouts. TDF.

Quinoa “Mac n’ Cheese” Ingredients: 

  • 1 1/2 cups quinoa, rinsed and drained
  • 1 shallot, sliced
  • good pinch of salt
  • a few grinds of seasoning salt
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 cup soy milk or non-fat milk
  • 1 1/2 cups grated Cheddar cheese, more for sprinkling
  • 4 oz smoked mozzarella, cubed
  • Optional- Crushed Red Pepper, Panko Bread crumbs for topping
  • Toppings (optional)- salsa, hot sauce, sour cream, scallions

The Method:

  1. Lightly saute garlic and shallot over medium heat.
  2. Cook quinoa to packaged instructions until fully cooked. (About 15 minutes)
  3. Preheat oven to 350 F. Coat 13×9 inch dish( or 8 individual ramekins) with cooking spray.Whisk together eggs and milk in large bowl. Fold in quinoa mixture and cheese. Stir very well and let some of the cheese melt. Transfer to prepared baking dish and if using Panko Crumbs or Bread crumbs add now and bake 30-35 mins, until bread crumbs are browned.

Grilled Tofu Ingredients:

  • Extra-firm tofu, sliced 3/4 inch thick
  • 1/3 cup soy sauce
  • 1/3 cup maple syrup
  • 2 Tablespoons lemon juice
  • 1 Tablespoon toasted sesame oil

The Method:

  1. Remove tofu from package and drain. Meanwhile, mix all the other ingredients together in a shallow bowl.
  2. After the tofu is done draining, slice into 3/4 inch thick strips.
  3. Place slices in the marinade and allow to site for at least 10 minutes.
  4. While the tofu is marinading, heat an indoor grill pan (or outdoor grill) to medium heat.
  5. Grill tofu for 3 minutes on each side.

ENJOY!

Avocado Quesadillas

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I love meals that can be made in under 10 minutes. I also love any meal that incorporates cheese and avocado – can you blame me? Since I’m trying to get myself back into shape for the simply sweltering summer that is a brewing, so my time in the kitchen has been replaced with the gym. Not only do I refuse to ruin my workout with a drive-thru dinner, but I’m also not going to throw a bunch of lettuce on a plate and call it a day.

So, over the weekend I found a cornucopia of yummy recipes that are quick to prepare AND won’t make caloric intake go through the roof.

Enter the Avocado Quesadilla…

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 avocado
  • 1 teaspoon lemon or lime juice (I used lemon)
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt
  • 1 tortilla
  • 1/4 cup grated white cheddar

Instructions:

  1. Preheat the broiler.
  2. Mash the avocado with the lemon or lime juice and the salt.
  3. Cover a cookie sheet with foil. Lay the tortilla down, spread the avocado mixture, sprinkle the cheddar across the surface and pop it into the broiler for 4-5 minutes – or until the cheese is melted and the tortilla takes on a golden hue.
  4. Cut into wedges and serve immediately. I served mine with a Kale and Spinach salad dressed in EVOO, lemon juice and salt & pepper. Enjoy!