Chicken & Sweet Potato Stew

Baby it’s cold outside…. And that calls for crockpot time!

Not the prettiest of pics but what did you expect stew to look like?  It's orange & it's yummy.

Not the prettiest of pics but what did you expect stew to look like? It’s orange & it’s yummy.

Chicken & Sweet Potato Stew (adapted from the cookbook that came with my crockpot)

Ingredients

  • 4 boneless skinless chicken breasts cut into bite-size pieces
  • 2 medium sweet potatoes, peeled & cubed
  • 2 medium Yukon gold potatoes, peeled & cubed
  • 2 medium carrots, peeled & cut into ½ “ pieces
  • 1 – 28oz can crushed tomatoes
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp paprika
  • 1 tsp celery
  • 1/2 tsp pepper
  • 1/8 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/8 tsp nutmeg
  • 1 cup chicken broth

Directions

  1. Put all ingredients in the crockpot and cook on high for 3-4 hours.
  2. Dinner is done.
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Thanksgiving Recap & a Recipe Roundup

Thanksgiving is one of those holidays that I love to love.  I enjoyed every single bite.  No guilt, just indulgence.  We go to my boyfriend’s parents house every year.  They have allllll the fixins and everyone brings something.  And knowing I was going to indulge, I wanted to make sure I had a big side of veggies to put on my plate.  I also wanted to make sure I had something to snack on before the big meal.  And I wanted a sweet treat at the end of the meal but knew I wouldn’t be able to stuff a whole slice of pie down my gullet after all that yummy food.

So here’s what I brought:

spinach artichoke dip (adapted from my vitamix cookbook)

Ingredients:

  • ½ cup mayo
  • ½ cup sour cream
  • 1 slice lemon, peeled & seeded
  • 1 large package of fresh spinach
  • a pinch of salt & pepper
  • 1 garlic clove
  • ¼ cup shredded parmesan
  • ½ cup canned artichokes, drained

Directions:

  1. Place all ingredients except artichoke hearts in vita-mix
  2. Turn it on (variable 1, increase to 4)
  3. Blend, blend, blend (took me a while to get all that spinach in there and blended up)
  4. Add artichokes and blend a little more
  5. Usually I put it in the oven on 350* for 20-25 min, but this year I brought a cute little mini warmer.  Poured that in there and gave it about 20 min to warm up, stirring every now and then.
  6. Serve with a sprinkle of parmesan on top and tortilla chips to dip.
  7. Enjoy!

No pic – it was green and not very photo-worthy.

guacamole – my boyfriend’s special secret recipe 😉  also green and not very photo-worthy.

roasted veg – the great thing about this recipe is that I cooked it in the morning and dumped it all in the crockpot to take over.  Plugged that bad boy in and set it on warm.  When it was time to put it on the table, I just took porcelain container over to the table and drizzled some balsamic on top and sprinkled it with shredded parmesan.  Voila!  Easiest dish to bring for Thanksgiving ever.

pumpkin cheesecake truffles – totally not primal or paleo or even gluten-free but VERY tasty

My plate was full of spinach salad and roasted veg, a big serving of turkey (mmm…dark meat), and a little bit of mashed potatoes, stuffing, and gravy.  And a dreamy buttered roll.  I didn’t finish it all (my plate that is, you can be damn sure I ate every bite of anything I describe as “dreamy“).  And I enjoyed every bite.  And most of all I was grateful to have a wonderful family to celebrate with.

What did you have for Thanksgiving?

Banana “Ice Cream”

Here’s a quick, easy treat that is ice-cold and dairy-free.  I know it has been posted up and down on pinterest, but here it is all the same – Banana “Ice Cream”

Ingredients:

  • Banana
  • Nutella or almond butter or strawberries or whatever your heart desires

Directions:

  1. Blend
  2. Freeze
  3. Enjoy your guilt-free dairy-free “ice cream”!

I like to keep some bananas frozen on standby to blend whenever I feel like a treat.   And apparently there’s a device out there called a yonanas that does exactly this.  I’m not really sure how it differs from my vitamix other than taking up precious storage space.  Still want one.

Pesto Meatloaf

What’s more stick-to-your-ribs-comfort-fall-food than meatloaf?  It’s one of those meals that I actually really love but never make…until now.

I kind of combined 2 recipes (this one and this one) to create one ultimate meatloaf!

Pesto Meatloaf served w/ mashed sweet potatoes and broccoli slaw & mushrooms.

Ingredients:

  • 2 tsp olive oil
  • 1/2 onion, diced
  • 1T garlic
  • 1lb ground beef
  • 1/4 cup pesto (I used my vitamix pesto recipe)
  • ½ cup sundried tomatoes (I meant to include these but forgot in this photo…)
  • 2 T parmesan
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/4 cup almond flour
  • 1 egg
  • 1/4 cup marinara
  • 2 tsp balsamic

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 350*
  2. Sauté onion until it starts to brown.
  3. Add garlic, lower the heat and sauté for a couple more minutes.
  4. Combine your meat, sautéed onion/garlic, pesto, sundried tomatoes, parmesan, salt, almond flour, and egg.  Best to use your hands!
  5. Last time I used a deep glass pyrex dish, but next time, I will shape my meat mixture into a loaf-like shape and put it on a sprayed rack on top of a cookie sheet so that the fat drips off into the pan.  But either way will work.
  6. Bake for 30 min.
  7. Stir together your marinara sauce and balsamic vinegar.
  8. Brush – or spoon – it on top of your meatloaf when the first 30 min are up.
  9. Continue to bake for another 30 min and brush on some more of that yummy marinara/balsamic sauce on top a few more times.
  10. Slice that bad boy up and enjoy!

It’s My Mediversary!

1 year ago today, I reached my goal weight with Take Shape For Life (TSFL) and began transitioning from Medifast meals to regular foods.  Yay me!  Get it, it’s not just an anniversary…it’s a Medi-versary!

I am extremely proud to say that I weigh right in the range as I did one year ago.  I fluctuate about 2 pounds in either direction at any given time (currently at the upper end of those 2 lbs right now), but I’m basically the same weight as I was a year ago and it feels good!

And it’s still a journey. I’ve spent most of the year being a little ocd with the calorie counting/weighing.  A little too obsessed actually – it’s kinda embarrassing.  I just can’t quit you, Livestrong Calorie Counter (my app of choice).

I’ve kept track of my calories all year and can see that I have been within about the same range all year.  In fact, the couple months I increased my calories a little, I weighed the lowest.  But I had one month where I did not track at all and was at my highest weight.  I think that freaked me out and so I kept on tracking.  I may go on vacation and let all the adding up go on vacation too…but I keep coming back.  I think I’ve been counting for fear that I’ll lose all control and gain those dreaded 30 lbs back.  I feel like the stress of counting and staying in a certain (self-determined) range is not good for me.  I know what a portion size is now.  I’m not serving myself Cheesecake Factory-sized dinners.  And I’m not knocking calorie counting for weight-loss – it’s a great tool.  But I think I can keep it in my toolbox for now and just take it out when I need it, not obsess over it every day.

So for now, for the holidays, until the New Year…I’m letting it all go.  Buh-bye Calorie Counter.  I will not miss you.  I’m going to enjoy the carefree freedom of not knowing and not caring how many calories are in every single bite.  I’m going to eat whole foods, healthy foods, like I have all along.  I’m going to keep on keepin on with the Paleo/Primal thing.  No grains, bread, pasta, processed food or sugar – I still do some dairy (HWC in my coffee every morning and occasionally some cheese).  I have even started adding in *gasp* white potatoes (look at me, gettin’ crazy up in here!).  And I also know I’m going to indulge over the holidays sometimes, but not every day.

And if I gain over the next couple months, then I’ll reassess in January.  I know that TSFL works in minimal time (typical results are weightloss of 2-5 lbs/week and up to 20 lbs in the first month! Results will vary.).  I know that cutting back on dairy and fruit and nuts (and those oh-so-delicious paleo treats!) can get me there.  I know that calorie counting will also work.  I have lots of options and so do you.

But for now, let’s enjoy every bite…

Vegetarians Beware…I Made MEATZA!

My hands-down favorite food of all time is pizza.  I like fancy-pants pizza – you know, the kind with the thin crust and crazy toppings (have you ever tried clam & bacon?  I’m not even joking – it’s delish).  I’ve even tried the gluten-free crust pizza….it was meh.  But what I really love is the totally basic take and bake pepperoni classic.  I love it.  It’s a go-to dinner when we have the kids b/c it’s easy and they love it and there’s leftovers for lunch (or breakfast).

I’ve tried stopping at one piece and it never works.  Inevitably, I eat 3 more, plus cutting tiny corners off here and there just to have “one more bite”.  Every. Single. Time.  I feel sick to my stomach and wonder why I did that to myself.

I tried the cauliflower pizza.  It looked like pizza, tasted like pizza…I didn’t even miss the crust!  Unfortunately cauliflower and I are not friends, if you know what I mean.

So…how can I shovel all of my favorite toppings (mainly pepperoni) into my mouth?

Enter MEATZA!  Check this out – looks like pizza, tastes like pizza, still don’t miss the crust!

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 lb ground beef
  • 1/2 an egg (I know that sounds weird, I needed to bind it somehow and I thought a whole egg would be too much….next time I will just make 1 lb beef + 1 egg, and have 2 pieces of meatza…so much easier)
  • 1/2 tsp garlic powder
  • 1/2 tsp onion powder
  • 1/2 tsp italian herbs
  • 1/4 – 1/2 cup shredded cheese (I used an italian mix)
  • 1/4 cup marinara
  • pepperoni or whatever toppings YOU like on your meatza.

Directions:

  1. heat oven to 350*
  2. mix the meat, egg, spices by hand in a bowl
  3. press out into a greased pan (I used a 7X5X1.5 pyrex)
  4. cook for 15 min
  5. take out and pour out the excess liquid then top with your marinara, cheese, and other toppings.
  6. cook for another 15 min
  7. enjoy!

I served it with roasted veggies (red onion, eggplant, summer squash, zucchini, broccoli) – I just tossed in olive oil and salt & pepper and cooked at 350* for 45 min, mixing it all up at the halfway point so nothing burned too bad on one side.  I topped it with a drizzle of homemade balsamic vinaigrette.

It was so yummy I had it the next night – using homemade pesto  (instead of the vinaigrette) & pesto chicken burger, topped with more cheese.  No pic, it wasn’t pretty…but it was SUPER yummy.

I used 1 Tbsp for my veggie pesto mix and froze the rest in a ice tray – which makes 1 Tbsp servings to use whenever you are in the mood for some yummy pesto.

Clearly these recipes include a lot of cheese.  So perhaps this is more “primal” more than paleo.  I’m ok with it b/c I don’t eat a whole lot of cheese in general.  If you don’t do cheese, just skip it.  Meatza is yummy any way you top it!

Mmmmm…Chocolate Chip Cookies!

I was planning on making these chocolate chip cookies from Primal Palate….but then saw this recipe from my bff Holly at Holly Would If She Could.  BTW, she does not know she is my bff, but I think it’s a realistic assumption were we to ever meet.  If you don’t read her blog, you should.  I don’t think she’s ever posted anything that I haven’t loved.  And that includes the crossfit posts – I don’t even do crossfit!  (I know, *gasp*)  But I’m always learning and loving and laughing with her over on her blog.

But back to the cookies.  I did exactly as she said, so I’m not going to repeat the recipe here.  The only thing I changed was that I used milk chocolate chips instead of semi-sweet.  Just sounded better to me when I bought them.  And oh. my. gaw.  Check out the results:

I mean – those are some regular ol’ chocolate chip cookies!  And tasted like it too!  I’m all for eating the real deal just as much as I like paleofying recipes.  And this one worked.

PS – they did NOT work when I shoved them in a ziploc at the bottom of my purse for my flight to Phoenix.  They were just a crumbly mess by the time I landed.  I think that would happen with regular chocolate chip cookies too.  My bad for not putting them in tupperware.  Duly noted for next time.  😉

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