Summertime Taco Salad

Salads are one of my favorite meals to eat. I love how light they are and it’s a great way to get in lots of vegetables. My salad craving is especially strong  during the summer when there’s gobs of produce everywhere.

But my husband isn’t a fan of salads. We’ve tried a few different things, but it’s usually a no-go.

So you can imagine my excitement when I discovered that he will eat taco salad.

Taco Salad—Taste and See

Needless to say, almost every week or so over the past month, we’ve been having taco salad for dinner. Not only is it tasty, but it’s very simple to put together.

Taco Salad—Taste and See

This salad can be easily tailored to fit what you like. I like a big bowl with lots of greens, a variety of vegetables, meat, and a simple homemade dressing (actually it’s usually just olive oil and lemon juice) sprinkled on top. Josh likes a plate with some lettuce, a few select vegetables, meat and cheese on top with no dressing. So make it your own. I’ve included an outline below that can be easily adjusted to fit any and all preferences.

Taco Salad—Taste and See

Doesn’t it just make your mouth water?

Enjoy!

Summertime Taco Salad
(3-4 servings)

  • 1 lb ground meat (I like beef or turkey)
  • Homemade taco seasoning (I like this recipe)
  • Romaine lettuce, chopped
  • Diced tomato
  • Diced avocado

Optional:

  • Diced bell pepper
  • Green onion
  • Black olives
  • Shredded zucchini
  • Salsa
  • Guacamole (in place of avocado)
  • Refried beans (omit for Paleo and GAPS)
  • Shredded cheese (omit for dairy-free)
  • Sour cream (omit for dairy-free)
  • Favorite homemade dressing (I usually just add extra-virgin olive oil and a splash of lemon juice—the seasonings flavor it so well that it doesn’t need much).

Cook ground meat in skillet over medium heat. Once thoroughly cooked, drain and place back in the skillet. Add taco seasoning and filtered water (somewhere between 1/2 to 1 cup) and simmer over low heat to warm mixture. Meanwhile, wash romaine lettuce and chop or tear into bite-size pieces. Place desired amount of lettuce in each dish and add diced tomatoes and avocado (and any other toppings). Top with warm meat mixture (and dressing, optional).

Have a favorite salad? Please share!

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Baked Sweet Potato Fries

So, I have to say our Memorial Day weekend is off to a great start. Our seven-month- old son has been sick with a cold this week and he hasn’t gotten much sleep (which by default means I haven’t either!). But I’m happy to say that he’s feeling better and slept the entire night—win-win!

sweet potato fries 4

I wanted to share a side dish that has become a staple in our house. These tasty fries usually find their way to our table at least a few times each week and for good reason. First, they are delicious. Second, they are super easy to make. Third, it’s way cheaper and healthier than buying them from the store (no added ingredients or inferior oils). And fourth, they are delicious (okay, that needed to be said again).

sweet potato fries 3

I almost didn’t share this recipe, because I figured everyone already knows how to do this (and if you haven’t done it before, you’d be able to figure it out). But to be honest, I only started eating sweet potatoes this way within the last several months. So, I thought it wouldn’t hurt to throw this out there for anyone who hasn’t made sweet potato fries (or regular potato fries if you aren’t a fan of sweet potatoes like my husband).

Just cut the sweet potato into fry-shapes:

sweet potato fries 1

Coat with a little olive oil (or softened coconut oil), sea salt, and fresh-ground pepper, and spread out on a pan (I like to line the pan with parchment paper for easier clean-up):

sweet potato fries 2

Bake at 350 for somewhere between 20 and 30 minutes. You can flip them midway through the bake time, but I usually just leave them (because I’m a bit lazy). And that’s it!

Baked Sweet Potato Fries
2 sweet potatoes
2 Tbsp olive oil or softened coconut oil (more or less to taste)
Sea salt
Fresh-ground pepper

Cut sweet potatoes into fry-slices. Place in a dish and add olive oil, sea salt and pepper. Coat all pieces thoroughly, and then lay flat on baking pan (I like to line with parchment paper, optional). Bake at 350 degrees for 20 to 30 minutes. Flip midway through the bake time (optional).

What’s your favorite way to eat sweet potatoes?

 

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Green Breakfast (or Anytime) Smoothie

green smoothie 1Over the past several weeks, I’ve been looking for more (and different) ways to get vegetables into my diet, preferably uncooked vegetables. I don’t have a problem with cooked vegetables, but I have gobs of ways to get those in. But raw veggies? Well, there’s salads..and more salads..and salads?…

green smoothie 2Don’t get me wrong—I’m a diehard salad lover. But I just needed a change-up. And I have to say that this green smoothie is now a go-to favorite in the morning, or really anytime of day. It’s not super original—there are a lot of green smoothie recipes out there. But it’s fairly quick, pretty tasty, and my personal favorite of the green smoothies I’ve tried.

Now this isn’t a super sweet smoothie (i.e., don’t bite into it expecting green fruit-flavored ice cream.) But it has a nice, slightly sweet flavor that isn’t super strong but crisp and fresh. Don’t worry though—if this doesn’t sound like your thing, there are ways to enhance the sweetness which are listed below.

Green Breakfast Smoothie (2 servings)

  • 1 sweet apple (Gala, Pink Lady, etc), cored
  • 1/3 cup avacado
  • 1/3 cup carrots
  • 8-10 slices cucumber
  • 3-4 cups baby lettuce mix (or leafy green of choice)
  • Splash of lemon juice (1/2 – 1 tsp)
  • 1-2 pieces of frozen fruit (handful of berries, piece of mango, etc)
  • 1 cup of water

Optional add-ins/substitutions: coconut milk (or milk of choice) instead of water; gelatin powder (for protein)

Place all ingredients in blender and blend until smooth. Pour into glasses and serve immediately (or place in refrigerator for 1-2 hours for a colder result).

For a sweeter smoothie: add 1 to 1 1/2 cups of frozen fruit (mango, pineapple, bananas, etc) and reduce the amount of lettuce.

One additional note: I’ve found that the raw vegetables/fruit and lemon juice in this smoothie can cause a bit of a detox effect. Please keep this in mind if you plan to try this for yourself.

Have a favorite smoothie recipe? Please share!

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Chicken Veggie Sauté

We are pretty big fans of sauté/stir-fry meals at our house. These savory dishes are usually pretty simple to prepare and easy to warm up again as leftovers. And did I mention it’s my husband’s favorite way to eat vegetables? So, of course I make something like this as often as possible.

This is probably our favorite version yet.

Chicken Veggie Saute pic 5

The beauty of this meal is that it can be easily altered to match what you have on hand. I never make it the same way twice but we’ve enjoyed it EVERY time (and we’ve been eating it for over a year now). And the ingredients are very simple: vegetables, pastured chicken, sea salt and pepper. The strong flavors of the vegetables and the savory chicken complement each other so well that no other seasonings or spices are really needed.

Add a good dab of coconut oil, olive oil, ghee or fat of choice to the skillet and heat to medium. Add a coarsely chopped onion and/or bell pepper. You can substitute one for the other if needed. I didn’t have an onion this time around so I just used two bell peppers (see picture below). I wouldn’t recommend omitting both vegetables though as these add so much flavor. And make the pieces as big or small as you like. I usually opt for big because it’s quicker.

Chicken Veggie Saute pic 1

Let the onion/pepper cook for about 5-7 minutes and then add the next group of vegetables. These should be vegetables that take a bit of time to cook (ie not greens, broccoli, etc). I generally add some sort of winter squash such as butternut or acorn, and another root vegetable such as a turnip (rutabaga or parsnip would work too). Prep tip: If you are running short on time, prepare the squash the night before or see if you can find it pre-cut in the grocery store. But if neither of these are an option, you could substitute one to two sweet or regular potatoes.

Chicken Veggie Saute pic 2

Continue cooking until the vegetables are just beginning to get soft. Then add boneless, skinless chicken (breast, thigh, tenderloin—whatever you prefer) and continue cooking. You can either cut the chicken up in pieces or just separate it as you go (which is what I normally do).

After a few more minutes, add the next vegetable, which should be a vegetable that cooks more quickly. I usually add something like zucchini, yellow squash, mushrooms, broccoli…this time I added zucchini.

Chicken Veggie Saute pic 3

Once the chicken is fully cooked and the vegetables are soft, turn the heat down to low and add chopped greens (spinach, kale, collard greens, chard, etc), sea salt and pepper. For added flavor and nutrients, I like to add two to three freshly minced garlic cloves, but this is optional (it will taste great either way!) Continue to simmer the mixture until the greens have fully wilted (usually five to ten minutes).

You can serve this over rice or just as it is (which is usually what we do).

Happy eating!

 

Chicken Veggie Sauté (Makes 3-4 Servings)

  • 1 onion, coarsely chopped
  • 1 bell pepper, coarsely chopped
  • 1/2 of a winter squash (butternut, acorn, etc), peeled and cubed
  • 1 turnip (or root vegetable of choice), peeled and cubed
  • 1-2 zucchini or yellow squash, chopped
  • 1 bunch of greens, chopped
  • 2-3 cloves of garlic, minced (optional)
  • 1 lb to 1.5 lbs of boneless, skinless chicken (cut into cubes if preferred)
  • Coconut or olive oil (or fat of choice)
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • Optional add-ins and/or substitutions: Sub sweet or regular potatoes for the squash; sub mushrooms or broccoli for the zucchini

Chicken Veggie Saute pic 4

Place oil or ghee in a large skillet and heat to medium. Add onion and pepper and cook for approximately 5-10 minutes. Add cubed squash and turnip and cover; continue cooking until vegetables begin to soften (10-20 minutes). Add chicken and cover, stirring occasionally (if chicken is not previously cut, shred with spatula as it cooks) After 5 minutes or so, add zucchini and cover, stirring occasionally. Once chicken is completely cooked and vegetables are soft, turn heat down to simmer and add greens, sea salt, pepper and minced garlic. Cover and simmer until greens are wilted and soft.

 

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Roasted Garlic Zucchini

Zucchini was always one of those vegetables that I thought went well with other things—throw it in a soup, shred it for a salad, sneak it into pancakes or casseroles. But by itself? Um, no thank you.

But my mind was changed when I happened upon this simple way of preparing zucchini. By adding just a little salt and garlic powder, and slicing thinly to give it a chip-like quality, this rather plain veggie is turned into a tasty side dish or snack. This recipe works well with yellow squash too. Go ahead and substitute or use some of both!

You’ll only need:

  • 1-2 zucchini (or yellow squash)
  • Olive oil
  • Sea salt
  • Garlic powder

Take zucchini and cut into very thin slices. Spread flat across an oiled baking sheet. Brush with olive oil and sprinkle sea salt and garlic powder to taste.

zucchini pic 1

Bake at 350 degrees for roughly 20-35 minutes. It really just depends on how you prefer the texture (a more crisp, almost-burnt texture would need a longer bake time; a more soft and soggy texture would need shorter) and how thin or thick the slices are. You may need to play around with it a few times to find what works best for you.

zucchini pic 2

And that’s it! Enjoy.

What are some other flavorful ways to eat zucchini? Please share!

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