Healthy Italian

Of all the international flavors out family enjoys, Italian is probably our most favorite.  I love the flavor of fresh herbs in a tomato based sauce (generally with Italian sausage added) mixed with pasta and a sprinkling of cheese.

Mmmmm!

Generally it doesn’t matter how it’s prepared, I love pasta!  But, pasta is not something I eat a lot of these days.  While low in calories, it is very high in carbs, carbs that process as a sugar.  Not something I am wanting in my diet as I am down to my last 30 pounds to lose.

Recently I was scrolling through a favorite read by NASCAR driver wife, Samantha Busch, and found her own healthy Italian recipe.

Suddenly I was craving Italian and had to try it out!  With just a few minor changes we enjoyed a delicious, flavorful Italian dinner ready in under an hour.

Made with spaghetti squash and topped with a rich marinara and fresh summer squash this was an Italian dish that was perfect in all ways!

Healthy Italian

Ingredients:

Large Spaghetti Squash

zucchini

Yellow Squash

Baby Spinach leaves

Fresh Basil (I used purple Basil from my garden)

Garlic cloves, minced

1 Can of no-salt added diced tomatoes with garlic, basil & oregano

2 (8 ounce) cans no-salt added tomato sauce

Vidalia onion 

2 Chicken Breast Cutlets

Italian Seasoning

Olive Oil

Directions:

Cut your spaghetti squash in half and scoop out the seeds.  Brush with olive oil, sprinkle with black pepper, place on a cookie sheet and bake at 375 about 45 minutes.

While the squash is cooking, Take your cans of tomato sauce and diced tomatoes and add to a saucepan on the stove.  Chop half of the Vidalia onion and add to the tomatoes with a little Italian seasoning.  Simmer on medium about 15 minutes to allow flavors to mesh.

Take an immersion blender and puree the tomato mixture into a smooth sauce.

pureeing the marinara sauce

pureeing the marinara sauce

You’ll need two skillets.  In the first, heat a tablespoon of olive oil and add your chicken breast cutlets seasoned with Italian seasoning.  Cook on medium heat about 12 minutes, turning once.

chicken cutlets seasoned with Italian seasoning

chicken cutlets seasoned with Italian seasoning

In the second skillet, Slice your squash & zucchini and add to a non-stick skillet with 1 tablespoon olive oil and a clove of minced garlic.  Saute until squash is tender, but crisp.  Add a cup of spinach leaves and cover with a lid about 3 minutes to wilt.  Remove from heat.

Love fresh summer cooking!

Love fresh summer cooking!

Take your spaghetti squash out of the oven and scrap this insides out, making “noodles” for your marinara sauce.  Cover with the sauce and fresh veggies.  Add a little fresh basil to the top and serve with a protein of your choice.

Italian done healthy

Italian done healthy

There is so much flavor in this simple dish you never even miss the pasta!

IMG_8995

I hope you’ll try this flavorful alternate to traditional Italian style spaghetti.

Have a great weekend!

I’m linking up with Rattlebridge Farm for Foodie Friday today!

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Jalapeno Stuffed, Bacon Wrapped Chicken

With Memorial Day weekend right upon us I thought that I would share this quick and easy appetizer perfect for any hungry guest while waiting for BBQ on Monday.
I found this recipe in an old edition of Better Homes & Gardens or Southern Living, years ago, then copied it into a recipe book.  It originally contained cream cheese & a couple of other ingredients that we no longer indulge on, so I changed it up to keep it  healthy and “clean” to fit our on-going lifestyle here.
The kiddos weren’t home when I tried these, but Audley was…..
He didn’t want to share, so I am guessing they were success!
Ingredients:
Four chicken breasts, pounded with a mallet and flattened
1 package Nitrate-free bacon (I used Maverick Ranch brand)
1/4 cup Organic Honey (Shop your local farmers market for local)
3 Tablespoons Annie’s Organic Mustard
3 Jalapenos, sliced into four pieces each
Basil, chiffonaded
freshlyground black pepper, to taste
Directions:
Preheat your oven to 375 degrees.
Flatten your chicken breast to 1/2 inch thickeness, and slice into two or three long strips.  Wrap a jalapeno slice into each strip.
In a small bowl, mix the honey, mustard and basil together.  Brush over each jalapeno wrapped chicken piece.
Wrap each piece in bacon and secure with a toothpick for baking.  Season with black pepper & bake, uncovered 25 minutes (or until chicken is cooked through.
**If you are serving a large crowd, you will want to double this recipe.
Place on a platter and serve to your hungry guests!
Bon Appetit!
 

Buffalo Chicken Lettuce Wraps

Supper on the table in thirty minutes?  
This has become my mantra for meals each night as I strive to keep my cooking time to under 45 minutes as I’m usually trying to get supper on between evening clients each day.
Believe it or not, it is possible, with just minimal menu planning & food prep on the weekend to have me ready for the week.
With spring trying to settle in and the temptation of warmer weather I am looking for meals that fit the season.  Lettuce wraps are a perfect meal when the weather is nice. Fresh seasonal ingredients make them even more of a delicious delight!
Last week I prepared these fabulous buffalo chicken inspired lettuce wraps.  Light, healthy and fast they were a huge hit with my kiddos.
Ingredients:
1 pound boneless, skinless chicken breast
3 teaspoons chipotle chili powder
1 teaspoon onion powder
1 teaspoon garlic powder
black pepper (just to taste)
3 tablespoons olive oil or coconut oil
1 head of Boston lettuce
1 avocado, thinly sliced
grape tomatoes, sliced into halves
chopped green onion
fresh cilantro, chopped
Preparing The Dish:
*Removed excess fat from your chicken breast and slice the chicken into thin strips.  Add to a bowl, then toss with the chipotle chili, onion and garlic powders, and black pepper.
*In a large pan, heat your olive or coconut oil, then add a layer of the chicken.  Sauté’, on medium heat until the chicken is done, turning once while cooking.
*While your chicken is cooking, separate the lettuce leaves into whole pieces. This will serve as you wrap for the chicken.
*When the chicken is cooked through, place on a paper towel to drain excess oil from the chicken.
*Arrange the chicken, lettuce, avocado slices, grape tomatoes halves, green onion and cilantro on a platter for easy fixing at the table.
Or, if time allows, go ahead and assemble the lettuce wraps for easy grabbing.
You have to love the fresh flavors mixed with spice and crunch!  Just perfect for a pretty spring evening supper.
Thirty minutes to supper!
What’s on your plate tonight?

White Chicken Chili

I don’t know what the weather has been like where you are, but here in South Carolina it just can’t seem to make up its mind!  We may be bundled as tight as we can, freezing, one day and wearing short-sleeves the next!  But regardless of the temperatures we have had a fair amount of rain.
Nothing can make a person more miserable than those cold, dreary, rainy winter days.
So, I set out to warm us all up last week with a delicious (and healthy) white chicken chili.
It was a spicy hit that warmed us all up and added a great deal of flavor to what has been a boring meal month in our house.
Now I will say, this recipe makes a lot.  And I meant for it to make a lot because it gave Audley & I a healthy prepped food option throughout the next couple of days.  Food prep is the number one key to following a heath and fitness plan, so it is something I am most serious about!
8 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
4 cans no-salt added navy beans
2 cans of no-salt added diced tomatoes
64 ounces unsalted chicken broth (I usually make my own, but for convenience you can always purchase this)
6 fresh jalapeños, seeded and diced
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 large red onion, diced
1 small bell pepper, diced
6 teaspoons ground cumin
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 16-ounce bag of corn (I use Cascadian Farms, organics)
3 teaspoons cayenne pepper
2 tablespoons oregano
2 tablespoons crushed red pepper flakes
black pepper to taste
I use organic products …. these brands can be found at Ingles and Publix & stock up on them when it’s buy one, get one free.
Cover your chicken with water and boil until it is done all the way through ( I add a little garlic to mine).  Remove from the water and shred, using two forks.  Save the water in which you cooked the chicken.
Add your chicken to a large soup pot.
Combine the beans, broth, bell pepper, red onion, spices, garlic & tomatoes in the soup pan.  Simmer on medium about an hour.  If the liquid seems to be cooking down, add some of the broth that was made when you cooked your chicken earlier.
The beauty of this recipe is you can adjust the seasonings quite easily to suit your taste.  I love spicy (which really eliminates the need for salt), but you can add about a teaspoon of sea salt if you desire.
After your chili has had a little time to simmer and the flavors mesh, serve up this hearty dish for a comforting and filling supper.
I usually have a little Chobani non-fat Greek yogurt, shredded Cabot Vermont sharp cheese and thin, crispy Xochitl no-salt tortilla chips available for the kiddos to top their chili.
The soup tureen is from Williams-Sonoma
And for the record, 2 cups is one serving size.
The beauty of preparing a soup for supper is that while it simmers you have time to have the kitchen mostly clean, a couple loads of laundry taken care of and time to set a simple, pretty table.

 

It’ll make everyone happy when you sit down for supper.
Who would’ve ever thought healthy eating could be so delicious?!
Enjoy!