I love gnocchi and salmon. Together, they just about send me into nirvana. I don’t eat a ton of pasta these days – we’re not gluten free, but we are a LOW gluten family that tends to lean toward whole, unpackaged foods with moderate cheats — so when I do eat it I insist that it’s the good stuff. After an epic trip to Italy a few years ago (plus my hubby’s family is super Italian), we have pretty high standards.
Pasta isn’t inherently bad, if it’s not loaded with chemicals and preservatives. The biggest issue is striking the right portion size and balancing it with your protein and veggies. That’s why this recipe is mostly protein and veggies with a little pasta on the side. Traditionally, most people would have a ton of pasta with very little of the “other stuff.”
This recipe is super, super, super easy. I have kids. I don’t have time for fancy. The gnocchi is authentic Italian, but it’s the store-bought kind that you can cook in 2 minutes. It’s not a one-pan meal, but it’s still pretty easy to clean up after!
Gnocchi and Salmon
- 1.5 lbs salmon filet (in one piece)
- Juice of ½ lemon
- 1 + lbs broccoli, chopped.
- 2 cups spinach
- 16 oz reall Italian gnocchi
- 2 tbsp unsalted butter, preferably grass fed
- Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
- Place whole salmon filet on a greased baking pan. Douse with lemon juice.
- Place broccoli on a greased baking sheet. Spray with spray avocado oil.
- Put the broccoli in the oven and roast for 15 to 20 minutes (take it out before it loses too much green color).
- After about 5 minutes, put the salmon in the oven with the broccoli. Let it roast for 12 to 15 minutes.
- While the broccoli and salmon cook, bring a pot of water to boil for the gnocchi. Cook according to the manufacturer's instructions. Drain.
- In the same pan you used for the gnocchi, melted butter and add spinach. Allow the spinach to sauté until wilted.
- Mix gnocchi back into the pan with the spinach and the butter.
- Arrange all the items on a platter, with the salmon in the center and the gnocchi and vegetable son the outside.
I love simple. With two kids and an ambitiously complicated life, I need simple. I also need nutrition, and this purple cabbage salad is certainly nutritious!
This is one of my favorite simple salads – packed with COLOR! That means vitamins, minerals and antioxidants! Make sure you cut the cabbage small enough – otherwise, you won’t enjoy the texture. While purple cabbage is more expensive than green cabbage, it’s still very affordable per pound. It keeps well in the refrigerator. Even better, conventional cabbage is grown with very little pesticide. That means you don’t need to spring the extra cash for organic cabbage.
Do not make the mistake of thinking this is a snacky poo salad that you will be able to serve to a picky eater… this is a straight up, unapologetic vegetable dish. There is nothing to disguise the flavor of the vegetables! However, the combination of olive oil and salt enhances the vegetables and makes it TASTY!
Recipe for Purple Cabbage Salad
I like to serve this at room temperature. I think it’s nice alongside a well prepared lean, red meat and a small portion of baked potato. It must be my Polish heritage – Steak, potatoes and cabbage just go together to me. Like this recipe? Make sure to pin it for later!
- 1 small head of purple cabbage, chopped small or cut thin (slaw style)
- 2 avocados, cut into ½" pieces.
- 1 red pepper, diced into small pieces
- ⅔ cup corn kernels (frozen is fine)
- ⅓ cup quality olive oil
- Pink Himalayan Sea Salt to taste (1 teaspoon +)
- Fresh cracked black pepper, to taste.
- Add all ingredients to a mixing bowl and toss to combine.
We just had a baby, so I’m looking for healthy meals (AKA high protein, moderate carb, moderate fat, unprocessed, with veggies) that I can make & freeze ahead for later. I pick a night to make the recipe for dinner, then double it and freeze the extra dish. My lean turkey chili has been a freezer-winner and I’m trying meatballs this week. So far, the unchallenged winner from my new repertoire is this healthier chicken pot pie.
I spiffed up my healthier chicken pot pie from a traditional pot pie in the following ways:
- Used way more meat – both chicken breasts and chicken thighs. *Note* It’s a popular misconception that chicken thighs are bad for you because they’re fattier – as long as you trim excess fat and take the skin off, chicken thighs only have a few more grams of fat per serving than breasts. They also have more of certain key nutrients that breast meat does not have.
- Used half the crust – I only use crust on top, which lowers the overall calories and fat in this traditionally heavy meal. Yes, the picture shows a two crust version… deception!
- No cream or butter in the filling – I use pureed, boiled potatoes to add creaminess. You can play with adding 1/4 cup to 1/2 cup of full fat coconut milk, as well, but my “nutrition brain” feels that the coconut-free version fits into my family’s nutrition style more.
- Used whole grain flour and coconut oil in the crust, not white flour and butter.
Recipe for Healthier Chicken Pot Pie
Here’s my healthier chicken pot pie recipe, along with suggestions for different methods of freezing it! I’ve even included directions for a paleo option! Like it? Pin it for later! Looking for more recipes? Check here!
- 3 Tablespoons Olive Oil
- 3 Chicken Breasts, cut or chopped into small pieces (I use meat shears).
- 6 Chicken Thighs, cut or chopped into small pieces (I use meat shears).
- ½ of a red onion, very finely chopped
- 4 Large carrots, peeled and chopped into small cubes (Or ~1 cup frozen chopped carrots)
- 4 Stalks of celery, chopped into small pieces
- ¾ cup to 1 cup of frozen green peas, depending on preference
- 1 large potato, peeled and boiled (to make paleo, you can use ½ head cauliflower, steamed)
- 2 teaspoons dried thyme
- 1 teaspoon dried rosemary
- 1 teaspoon pink himalayan sea salt
- ½ teaspoon black pepper
- 3.5 Cups Whole Wheat Flour or Gluten Free Flour Blend (I suggest a 3:4 ratio of tapioca flour to almond meal or rice flour)
- 2 Eggs
- 1 Teaspoon himalayan Sea Salt
- ½ Cup Coconut Oil
- ½ cup very cold water, plus extra tablespoons to make the dough consistency just right.
- Add olive oil to a cast iron dutch oven, or similarly large pan, on medium heat.
- Add onions and saute until translucent.
- Add carrots and celery. Cook until they just begin to soften, about 8 minutes.
- Add the chicken, salt and pepper and let it brown. In the meantime, put the boiled potato in a food processor and process until very very smooth.
- Add the potato puree, frozen peas, thyme and rosemary.
- If there's excess water in the pan then reduce heat and simmer the water off.
- Divide the filling into two casserole dishes, baking dishes or pie pans. I used a 9" glass pyrex pie pan and a square baking dish.
- Preheat the oven to 350 degrees fahrenheit. Make sure the rack is in the center of the oven.
- Combine the dry ingredients in a mixing bowl.
- Add the coconut oil and cut it into the mixture. Alternatively, you can use a food processor.
- Whisk the eggs and add it to the mixture, stirring thoroughly.
- Add the ½ cup of very cold water. The mixture will most likely be dry, still. Add more cold water by the tablespoon, until the dough comes together - not too moist and not too dry.
- Divide the dough into two balls and roll out onto a floured surface.
- Fit the dough over the top of the filling in the casserole dishes, fitting it to the edges of the dish and sealing if you'd like. Poke a few holes in the crust.
- Bake at 350 degrees fahrenheit for 55 minutes to 1 hr 10 minutes, until the crust is golden brown and the filling bubbles.
- ** TO FREEZE: You have choices.
- Freeze filling and raw dough separately. Freeze the dough rolled out between sheets of parchment paper. Add the dough just before cooking.
- Freeze pot pie filling with raw dough on top, uncooked. Let the filling cool before you put the dough over it.
- Freeze pot pie assembled and partially cooked... bake it for 30 minutes, remove it from the oven, let it cool and then freeze it.
- It will take less time to reheat the pot pie if you cook it first and then freeze it. However, freezing the crust uncooked is more likely to yield a crust that is crisp and not soggy.
If you’re wondering what a toddler should eat in a day, or what a healthy toddler MIGHT eat, then you’ll enjoy this series that I’m starting. It’s called “Today, my healthy toddler ate…” and is a list from a REAL day.
- Every child is different and this is NOT meant to be a nutrition plan or meal plan for YOUR child – just a sample of what MY healthy, active little boy eats. In an attempt to choose good search terms, the title of this page is coming up as “What a toddler SHOULD eat” – which I hate!! Realistically, there are too many factors – both nutritional and “real-life-ational” – to come up with a definitive SHOULD. Again, this post is simply meant as an example that might help you broaden your horizons as a parent or child care provider.
- This post contains affiliate links to Amazon.com. That means I get a percentage of the proceeds from any purchases you make through the links.
What A Toddler Should Eat: Today, My Healthy Toddler Ate:
Snack: ~15 Raw Almonds, 1 Carrot of Carrot Sticks, 1 Large Apple
Lunch: ~3 oz of steak, 1/2 sliced red pepper, 2 small “cutie” clementines
Post-nap snack: Roasted white potato “potato fries” (~ 1/4 potato)
Dinner: ~3 oz of steak, 1/4 cup sliced cucumbers, 1/4 cup of spinach salad with balsamic dressing
Dessert: Homemade chocolate-avocado pudding with homemade whipped cream = ~1/2 an avocado, 1/4 cup heavy cream, ~1 tablespoon of sugar, along with seasonings
Disclaimer for Traditional Oatmeal Pancakes: This blog post contains affiliate links to Amazon.com, which means that if you click on the link then I will receive a percentage of the proceeds from your purchase.
This is my recipe for Traditional Oatmeal Pancakes – fluffy, hearty and very much like a real pancake. We love pancakes, but don’t love eating flour all the time. I have nothing against flour, but I do feel that it’s important to eat a variety of grains. It’s easy to get stuck cooking with only wheat. I often refer to us a “low gluten family.”
Serving Traditional Oatmeal Pancakes
I haven’t fiddled with the recipe to add protein (as I love to do). So, make the meal complete by serving with a side of eggs. You also might serve it with a healthy breakfast meat like turkey sausage, plain yogurt or a protein shake. We usually don’t use maple syrup in our house. If we do, we use it very sparingly (perhaps two teaspoons per person). Instead, we top our pancakes with chopped fruit and/or nuts. Strawberries, blueberries and bananas all work very well.
- 1 cup oatmeal
- 2 teaspoons baking powder
- 1 tablespoon coconut oil
- 1 cup water, milk, buttermilk or mix of what you prefer - add more liquid if you prefer more thin pancakes, or less water if you prefer fewer thick pancakes
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- ¼ teaspoon salt
- Add all ingredients to a blender and blend.
- Heat a skillet on medium heat, with cooking oil or butter.
- Pour batter into the skillet until the pancake is the size you prefer.
- Cook on the first side until bubbles appear and the batter sets (quite a lot).
- Flip the pancake and let it cook for approximately two more minutes - oatmeal tends to retain water, so it needs a little extra cooking time to make sure the inside of the pancake isn't sticky.
No Candy Valentine’s Day Ideas
With my commitment to healthy living, holidays are always a challenge. I feel like Halloween marks the beginning of 4 months of massive sugar addiction, with Easter as a grand finale. Valentine’s day is fast approaching and I’m being proactive about minimizing added sugar. Here’s a list of No Candy Valentine’s Day Ideas I love! Getting ready for Easter? Check out my tips for a No Candy Easter, too!
The Heart “Egg in a Hole” by the Today Show’s food staff – Use whole-grain bread, add an extra side of scrambled eggs (For protein) and I’m sold. So cute!
Heart Shaped Carrots in Chicken Noodle Soup, from Sophistimom. I’ve also seen similar things with potatoes cut into heart shapes and roasted. Eat your heart out!
Lovely Fruit Salad
I heart this watermelon heart salad from “A Designer Life” blog by Jessica Lea Dunn. This is a great substitute for sugary desserts! Maybe you could even take turns feeding each other these juicy hearts.
Bananas For You!
I love this simple and easy Banana message from The House of Hendrix… this is something that I KNOW I can get done, no matter how crazy Valentine’s day gets!
There are lots of No-Candy Valentine’s day cards & gifts for kids to make. This “I Mustache You a Question” Valentines & Fake Mustaches, from Etsy – you can see more on my No-Candy Holiday Pinboard, including the snake Valentines my son and I made!
I love this post from the House of Hendrix, where she details her plan for a “love attack” on her family with 50 creative, inexpensive and fun ideas!
Disclaimer: This post about Protein Packed Oatmeal Pancakes contains affiliate links to Amazon.com, which means that if you click on the link then I will receive a percentage of the proceeds from your purchase.
Pancakes are fun, but their nutrition profile is typically a downer: Mostly all carbs, hardly any protein, way too many calories. And that’s without syrup, honey or agave adding extra carbs/sugar. That’s why I came up with a recipe for Protein Packed Oatmeal Pancakes.
Making Them Better
Since eating a high protein diet is a HUGE part of maintaining a healthy body and a lean physique, I’m always looking for ways to take traditional dishes more protein-plentiful. I love oatmeal for a number of reasons, so I decided to make oatmeal pancakes that had a better ratio of protein to carbs. Try them out and let me know what you think!
Warning, they do not taste exactly like pancakes. They are light and fluffy, but they are not bready like a traditional pancake. You can taste the egg in them if you do not add garnish. If you’re looking for a traditional oatmeal pancake, check out my alternate recipe here.
But it works!!
My toddler loved these – especially because I used a cookie cutter to make them into heart shapes for Valentine’s day.
These are both gluten-free and paleo.
Protein Packed Oatmeal Pancakes
- 1 Cup Oatmeal OR ¾ cup oat flour
- ¼ Teaspoon Salt
- 2 teaspoons of baking powder
- 4 Eggs
- 1 tablespoon coconut oil
- ¼ to ½ cups water (or liquid of your choice)
- To make batter:
- Blend all ingredients together in a food processor, according to your manufacturer's instructions. Blend at the highest speed possible, so the batter is smooth and airy.
- Mix dry ingredients in a large mixing bowl. Whisk the eggs in a separate bowl, then add in coconut oil and the water (make it warm water). You may need to melt the coconut oil if it's not already liquid.
- Add the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients. Mix well.
- To cook pancakes:
- Coat a skillet (I prefer cast iron) with the cooking oil of your choice. Heat the skillet on medium heat. Let it heat up before you add the batter.
- Pour the batter in and heat until bubbles form, then flip the pancake.
- Serve with the condiments of your choice. We use fruit and plain whole milk yogurt.
Disclaimer for my Pumpkin Chili Recipe post: This blog post contains affiliate links to Amazon.com, which means that if you click on the link then I will receive a percentage of the proceeds from your purchase.
One of the hardest things about the fall season is cooking with pumpkin, because it’s nearly impossible to find a pumpkin recipe that doesn’t involve lots of sugar and fat. It’s all pumpkin pie, pumpkin spice latte, pumpkin cookies, pumpkin bread, etc.
For me, this leads to an epidemic of pumpkin love handles, pumpkin buddha belly and pumpkin-induced double chin. Still, I can’t resist fresh pumpkins when I see them at the farmer’s market or grocery store. Their bright orange-ness is alluring and screams “nutrients” at me in a way I can’t walk away from. Over the years, I’ve learned to use pumpkin for good rather than evil.
I made his pumpkin chili tonight and it was KILLER – a great, savory way to eat some pumpkin! I used freshly chopped pumpkin, but you can certainly substitute canned puree if it’s all you have.
Pumpkin Chili Recipe
- 1 lb lean ground turkey
- 2-3 cups white beans, depending on how many beans you like
- 2 cups pumpkin puree
- 1 onion, chopped
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- 1 can diced tomatoes or 6 fresh roma tomatoes, cut into ½ inch cubes
- 1 tablespoon sweet paprika
- 2 teaspoons chili powder
- 1 tablespoon sage
- ½ teaspoon salt
- 1 cup vegetable stock
- 1 tablespoon black strap molasses
- 1 tablespoon olive oil, for sauteing
- Add oil, onions and garlic to a deep pot (like a dutch oven or a metal soup pot). Sautee on medium heat until translucent.
- Add ground turkey and brown.
- Add the tomatoes, vegetable stock, spices and molasses. Cover and simmer for 10 to 15 minutes.
- Remove from heat, let cool until warm and serve.
Disclaimer for “Thai Tacos”: This blog post contains affiliate links to Amazon.com, which means that if you click on the link then I will receive a percentage of the proceeds from your purchase.
If you love Thai and you love Taco Tuesday then you’ll love Thai tacos with Peanut-Lime Cabbage Slaw!
Easy, Easy, Easy Thai Tacos!
This recipe is so ridiculously good – at the same time, it’s so very simple!! It’s perfect for week night cooking. Even better, it’s got great proportions of macronutrients: Lots of protein and veggies… the right amounts of grain/starch and healthy fat. I used premade whole wheat tortillas, but I would have preferred to make my own. Choose the right tortilla for you, based on your dietary needs and food tolerances. Not into the tortilla part? Just serve the meat on top of the cabbage slaw for a delicious “Thai salad” – We eat a lot of veggies, so I usually serve this Thai salad on the plate next to the taco.
Turbo Charge It
If you’re trying to get MORE calories in your diet, then double the coconut milk used and omit the water. The flavor will be delicious.
Don’t break the bank!
If you shop right then it’s inexpensive, too. I got my meat on sale the first time I made this, so the whole recipe ended up costing less than $7 for 3 people. Cabbage is one of the least expensive and most nutrient dense vegetables you can buy. Even better, it’s naturally resistant to pests so it’s often raised with very little pesticides – even if you don’t buy it organic.
Focus on Produce
As always, locally sourced and well-raised/grown ingredients will yield better taste and better nutrition. I use Thai Kitchen’s red curry sauce, which you can find jarred in your local supermarket or on Amazon. I’m not crazy that it has “natural flavors” in it, which are controversial to some, but I can’t find another ready-made one that’s readily available.
- 1 green onion, chopped small
- 3 to 4 tbsp red curry paste (I use Thai Kitchen)
- 1.5 lb ground turkey, chicken or veal (I mixed veal and chicken)
- ¼ tsp salt
- 2 cloves garlic
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- ½ cup coconut milk
- ½ cup water
- 2 teaspoons sugar OR Stevia OR 1 tablespoon date paste OR Omit
- 2 tablespoons crunchy natural peanut butter OR 1 tablespoon CN PB / 1 tablespoon PB2 Powder
- 2 teaspoons onion powder
- 1 head of cabbage, cut thin or shredded
- Juice of a lime
- Black Pepper
- Whole Wheat Tortillas of Choice
- Coat a large, deep skillet with 1 tablespoon of olive oil.
- Add the garlic and onions. Sautee on medium / medium high heat until translucent.
- Add the red curry paste and mix, stirring for 30 seconds or so.
- Add the ground meat, breaking it into smaller pieces using your spoon. Continue to cook for about 5 minutes.
- Add the coconut milk, water and sweetener (if you choose to use it).
- Reduce heat to medium or medium-low, keeping the mixture at a gentle simmer until most of the liquid evaporates. It should take about 8 minutes. Stir occasionally. Remove the skillet from the heat and let it cool until you can handle the mixture with your hands but it's still warm.
- In the mean time, place your shredded cabbage in a large salad bowl.
- Mix 1 tablespoon oil, ¾ of the lime juice, peanut butter, salt, pepper and onion powder in a small bowl and pour into the cabbage. Mix the salad well, until all the cabbage leaves are evenly coated.
- Spoon the meat mixture into your tortilla and top with some of the cabbage mixture. We like a lot of vegetables with our meal, so I also made a bowl of the cabbage and topped it with some of my meat portion - the "salad version" of the sloppy joe.
Healthy Italian Food
Having grown up eating Italian food, I never would have dreamed that there is such a thing as Healthy Italian Food. As I’ve grown in my cooking and nutrition, however, I’ve found that many Italian dishes can fit quite well into a nutritious diet.
This Tuscan Riboletta is one of my favorite things to eat at home – it’s so fast to make and I usually have all the ingredients in my kitchen. I whipped this up for a dinner party last week and served it with a side of store bought Italian Turkey Sausage. I made an easy bruschetta for an appetizer and BAM I had an Italian-themed dinner party.
This recipe has tons of veggies in it, along with protein and slow digesting carbs from the white beans. Try it out and let me know what you think!
- 1 carrot, peeled and chopped small.
- 1 stalk celery, peeled and chopped small.
- ½ red onion
- 3 cups kale, chopped and stemmed
- 1 can diced tomatoes - no sodium added.
- 1.5 cups white beans, such as Cannelini or Northern Beans
- 2 cups chicken or vegetable broth
- ½ teaspoon sea salt
- 2 cloves of garlic, finely chopped
- 1 tablespoon + 1 teaspoon fennel seeds
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- Bread for croutons, if desired.
- Pour one tablespoon of olive oil into the cast iron dutch oven.
- Add carrots, celery, onion and garlic. Sautee until soft.
- Place the fennel in a mortar and pestle. Grind with the pestle a few times, until the seeds are a little mashed up.
- Add diced tomatoes and fennel. Let cook for another minute.
- Add white beans and broth. Let simmer for 2 minutes and then add the kale.
- If you're making toasted croutons, chop your bread of choice into cubes, place on a baking sheet and spray with olive oil. Either place in a toaster oven or put the bread under a broiling pan for a few minutes - until the bread is crisp and browning.
- Cover and cook until the kale is soft.