Let’s just cut to the chase here. If you’ve ever tried to blindly create anything with coconut flour, it’s highly likely you ended up angry, frustrated, confused, and most definitely hungry. Continue reading “Coconut Flour Pancakes”
Let me start by saying that what I’m about to share with you is the easiest, most delicious bite of fabulous I have thrown together in a long time. And, I throw together bits of fabulous frequently. This one was practically perfect in every way. Eat your heart out, Mary Poppins. The. Bomb. Diggity. Continue reading “Garam Masala Grilled Chicken Skewers”
Stress is real, people. And, the truth is last week was a stress-filled week.
I didn’t post this weekend because I was out of town, and when I started to pull together my thoughts about posting, the only thing I could think of saying was that my better choices journey sucked this week, and I wanted to leave it in the rear view mirror. Continue reading “Stress and Better Choices”
Everyone needs a back pocket recipe. It’s that one impressive yet easy meal you can pull from your back pocket anytime you need a pass for dinner. Continue reading “Lemon Rosemary Roast Chicken”
Well, there’s been a theme to this week…
Now that I’ve completely lost your attention and I, myself, am swaying back and forth dancing in my seat, let’s talk about the week, shall we? Continue reading “Red, Red Wine Chicken”
If you’re still feeling romantical after your lovely Valentine’s Day dinner, and even if you’re way over it, here’s a quick and easy Turkey Bolognese with Zucchini Pasta for any weeknight dinner! Continue reading “Turkey Bolognese with Zucchini Pasta”
It’s showtime, e’rybody. It’s that time of year where the romantic gesture of cooking a scratch-made meal can only end one of two ways, canoodling or calling the fire department. Well, not only am I here to help get your canoodle on, but we’re going to make better choices to get to that canoodle. Plus, we’ll let the fire department handle a real emergency. And, if you’re flying solo, then you’ll have a killer dinner, lunch for tomorrow, and dessert all week long because #lovethyself. Boom. Continue reading “Valentine’s Day Beef Kabobs and Chocolate Decadence Cake”
Whether it’s Valentine’s Day or I’m Hangry for Chocolate Cake Day, this sugar-free, gluten-free, guilt-free cake will hit the spot! I used coconut flour to create this recipe, and I know there’s a lot of coconut flour recipe disasters out there. I promise; you’ll be able to truly enjoy this one!
Zero Calorie Coconut Oil Spray
2 Cups Truvia (best sugar-free option I’ve found)
2/3 Cup minus 1 TBS Coconut Flour (gluten-free)
3/4 Cup Unsweetened Cocoa Powder
1 1/2 tsp Baking Powder
1 1/2 tsp Baking Soda
1 tsp Salt
1 1/4 Cup Almond Milk
1/2 Cup Canola Oil (can use melted coconut oil)
1 TBS Mexican Vanilla Extract
1 Cup Boiling Water
Preheat oven to 350°. Fill a saucepan with water, and bring the unsalted water to a boil on the stove. Spray a 13×9 inch glass dish with zero calorie coconut spray to avoid sticking. Set aside.
In a medium bowl, add Truvia. Remember to remove 1 TBS from the 2/3 Cup of coconut flour. Using a sieve, sift in coconut flour, cocoa powder, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. You will have some bigger pieces from the coconut flour not make it through the sieve. It’s okay. Set aside. The coconut flour is very absorbent, and the balance between the coconut flour, eggs, and liquid is crucial in order for the cake to come out perfectly.
In a large bowl, whisk together the almond milk, eggs, canola oil, and vanilla extract until thoroughly combined.
Add the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients and whisk together to incorporate fully, making sure to get the bottom edges of the bowl. The combination will not be thick and will appear grainy.
Slowly add one cup of boiling water to the mixture and whisk together to incorporate. The batter will be very loose and watery. Add the batter to the 13×9 inch coated pan.
Bake at 350° for 45-50 minutes or until a toothpick in the center comes out clean. Cool completely for at least 20 minutes. Although the cake may appear slightly wet, it will set up, much like a brownie.
Portion the 13×9 inch cake into 12 slices. Each slice is 138 calories. You read that right. So, enjoy every sugar-free, gluten-free, guilt-free bite!
Double whammy today! It’s Super Bowl Sunday!
You didn’t think I was going to leave you better choice-less for the big game, did you??? What kind of a better choices food blogger do you think I am?!? Continue reading “Super Bowl Buffalo Cauliflower Bites”
Sorry for the late post. Been a bit of a week – family events, travel, meetings, helping out at a bakery – the highlight of my week definitely being the time spent with my nephew. Continue reading “Oven Baked Crispy Parmesan Chicken and Veggies”
Generally speaking, I’ve never been a huge fan of hot sauce. While I’ve partaken in a shake or two of some of the more established hot sauce players in the game, I’m not exactly a chilihead.
Don’t get me wrong – I love spicy. Eating a fat, charred jalapeño or taking down some serious Szechuan pepper ladened Asian cuisine can be downright euphoric. That song “I Can’t Feel My Face” comes to mind. Lips numb, tongue seemingly engulfed in flames fueled by capsaicin. It’s a beautiful thing. But, on the regular? I’m more of a spicy salsa girl.
I mean, how else am I supposed to eat my glorious breakfast tacos? I need salsa verde, salsa picante, salsa roja – things I not only associate with spiciness but also bursts of charred tomato, roasted peppers, and the smokiness that comes from toasted cumin or roasted garlic – flavor! For me, hot sauce has always been all vinegar and very little depth of flavor.
That was until I met el Gringo Bandito. Querido mío. And, I have to admit. The encounter has changed my life.
Armed with three options, Original Red, Green, and Super Hot, I started out on my week-long adventure the only way I know how – the breakfast taco. Now, you might be thinking, “Hey! What about better choices, chica!?” Does this stuff fit into your mantra?
Read the label, vato loco. That was brownie point numero uno.
Salsa verde is normally my go-to salsa for breakfast tacos; so, I decided to stick with the program and go for the Gringo Bandito Green Sauce first.
Immediately, I knew there was something different. I wasn’t picking up that tart smack you get with most hot sauce. What I was getting was spicy but garlicky – like in that “have mercy, I need another bite” garlicky way.
The Green Sauce is a combination of Habanero and Serrano peppers, spices, and wait for it… mojo! Dude! Wow.
This was the shiznit. Blew my mind – mostly because I was fully expecting a fight with the vinegar to find some flavor. Pero no. This was good. As Nacho Libre might say, “Reaaaally goood.”
Now, as you recall, I have an aversion to sad, little salads. However, in my efforts to make better choices, I am adding more greenery to my daily intake – reluctantly so (as demonstrated in this recent text from Bear) – but nevertheless leafy greens have made an appearance on my plate.
The other day, I took some leafy greens to work. And, as part of my efforts to avoid said sad, little salad, I dressed it up with chicken and avocado. While it was a valiant effort, I feared it still wasn’t going to help take me to my happy place. So, I decided to throw some Gringo Bandito Original Red Hot Sauce into the mix.
Of the three Gringo Bandito options I tried, this was the only one that listed white vinegar as the first ingredient. I was betting on a “salad + vinegar + oil = sad, little salad + chilies = happier salad” theory.
The Red Japanese Chili Peppers in the Original Red reminded me of that awesome lingering burn you feel when eating a bowl full of chile colorado just before having a sip of beer to wash it down. The addition of the Original Red took me to that happy place as I sat in the office, much like the chile colorado moment but sadly, with no beer to wash down the leafy greens.
I do have to mention, the Original Red definitely was the most vinegar-forward of the three options, but it also was nowhere near the toxic tartness levels most of the hot sauces out there embrace wholeheartedly. Gringo Bandito Original Red Hot Sauce definitely showcases an original, focused effort on getting all the heat and all the flavor out of their carefully selected pepper combinations without drowning it in acid.
One of the nights this week, I made pan-seared skate wing with sauteed spinach and yellow squash. While beautifully balanced, healthy, and delicately seasoned, I couldn’t help but stare at the third bottle of Gringo Bandito sitting on the table with us, Super Hot, and wondering, “What if?”
This bad boy has Scorpion Chili Peppers!
AND Jolokia Chili Peppers! (aka Ghost Peppers! Cucuy!)
Would the skate wing melt away like that dude’s face in Indiana Jones Raiders of the Lost Ark?
Would my fork survive?
Would the yellow squash shrivel up and turn into ash upon contact with Gringo Bandito Super Hot?
I had to find out!
While, yes, my lips and tongue were not particularly pleased I had gone from delicate, flaky, lightly seasoned fish to FIRE IN THE PIE HOLE, it wasn’t so much about the heat. Not even Super Hot heat. I was getting the background – the onions, garlic, and additional spices that most hot sauces lack. It was hot enough to make me uncomfortable but not so hot that I couldn’t taste the fact that it hadn’t taken anything away from the skate wing; it had actually elevated it.
The whole purpose of Gringo Bandito, I discovered, isn’t to just add a dash of spicy vinegar to your plate but for Gringo Bandito to simply and artfully craft a layer of complexity that harnesses the beauty of heat without torching the natural essence of the actual chili flavor.
The more I tasted Gringo Bandito hot sauces, the more it started to change my view on hot sauce, overall and especially as an ingredient.
In making better choices, having flavor bomb options like Gringo Bandito that don’t bomb your better choices lifestyle is key! I need flavor punches without punching holes in my progress (17 pounds gone so far). Ultimately, this was the point that sealed the romance between me and my Gringo Bandito. It rocked my world so much that I even created a clean-eating, under-250-calories-per-healthy-serving recipe featuring Gringo Bandito Original Red Hot Sauce: Mexican Turkey Meatloaf.
16oz 93% Lean Ground Turkey
1/2 Medium Yellow Onion, diced
1 Yellow Squash, diced
1 Red Bell Pepper, diced
2 Celery Stalks, diced
1 TBS Cilantro, finely chopped
1 tsp Ground Cumin
1 tsp Garlic Powder
1 tsp Onion Powder
12 Herb Seasoned Croutons, crushed
1 TBS Knorr Tomato Bouillon With Chicken Flavor
5 TBS Tomato Paste
1 Large Brown Egg
2 TBS Gringo Bandito Original Red Hot Sauce
1 Medium Avocado, sliced
Preheat oven to 375°.
In a large sealable plastic storage bag, add the ground turkey. Set aside. Dice the onion, squash, bell pepper, and celery into small, similar sizes to ensure even cooking.
Add the diced vegetables, cilantro, cumin, garlic and onion powder to a skillet on medium-high. Cook until the onions and celery begin to become translucent. Season very lightly with salt, as you will be using bouillon later that will contain salt. Remove from heat and allow to cool thoroughly.
Once the cooked vegetables are completely cooled, add the vegetables into the plastic storage bag with the ground turkey. Do not add warm vegetables to the raw turkey for food safety reasons. To the bag, add the tomato paste, egg, crushed croutons, bouillon, and Gringo Bandito Original Red Hot Sauce.
Seal the bag and massage the bag until all ingredients are incorporated thoroughly. Place the contents of the bag into a loaf pan and smooth out evenly with a spoon.
To the top of the meatloaf, add several more dashes of Gringo Bandito Original Red Hot Sauce. Bake at 375° for 25-30 minutes or until the temperature reads 165° when inserted into the center part of the meatloaf.
Once the meatloaf is cooked through, top it with the sliced avocado and additional dashes of Gringo Bandito Original Hot Sauce for an extra kick! Serve with roasted sweet potato.
Yields 4 servings at 249 calories per serving.
It’s no joke. You need a Gringo Bandito in your life.
LET’S KEEP IT REAL: First and foremost, I do everything for the love of food. Most of what I write about is because I love it! If I don’t love it, I tell you about that, too. From time to time, I may receive monetary or product compensation for mentioning products, offering recommendations, providing endorsements, or including links to products or services when I blog. While that may be the case for some posts, it is not the case for all. When it’s sponsored, you’ll see #sponsored when I post. When I’m just sharing the love, I won’t use that particular tag or hashtag. What you need to know is that I only give shout outs when I actually use the product or love it so much it deserves a shout out, sponsored or not.
They say it takes 21 days to break a habit.
Today is my Day 21 of making better choices, and so far, this is what I have to report:
- Less hangry moments (they do occur if I don’t time out my meals properly)
- Less body pain in the morning (if you don’t count my butt hurting from doing Turbo Jam)
- Less cravings for all things formally known as “my diet” (aka Cheetos, Whatchamacallit Candy, MochaChocaLattes, and any form of beef)
- Less pounds to carry everywhere I go (down 14 pounds since Day 1 – not even trying to lose weight, people)
- More energy (sudden bursts of dance moves, butt squeezes, and/or squats while waiting at the microwave = more energy)
- More sleep (actually getting 6 hours on average which is a record for me)
And, the most important thing I have to report on Day 21 is I’m eating everything I love and don’t feel like I’ve done much but somehow program myself to feel better through better choices. It’s not rocket surgery. Lo and behold, all it takes is moving my booty at least four times a week for 20 minutes and not shoveling copious amounts of M&Ms into my pie hole every time I pass a bowl full of them.
I have to admit that I’ve always felt nothing good came from eating sad little salads, and I was right. They totally suck!
But, cleaner eating or healthier, better choices doesn’t have to mean eating sad little salads. Kids, I’m eating bacon on a daily! I grew up eating breakfast tacos and bacon, eggs, and toast for breakfast. That ain’t gonna change. What did change was that instead of eating two pieces of toast, a tablespoon of butter for my two eggs, plus my three strips of bacon, and butter and jelly on my toast (don’t judge), I now have one egg cooked in the renderings from my one slice of bacon, and I enjoy one piece of toast lightly buttered. Eat what you love! Love what you eat! And, most importantly, love yourself and make simple, better choices so you can continue reading my blog!
Throw a protein and some colorful things (preferably vegetables and herbs) together, and enjoy! That’s honest to goodness all I have been doing – nothing fancy. Every meal I make is filling, delicious, flavorful, and happy – just like these Chicken Lettuce Wraps! They are flavor bombs in a nice little lettuce wrapper and super easy to throw together. Check it out, follow my blog, subscribe to my YouTube channel, and keep making better choices! I know I will!
If you’re anything like me, the start of the new year usually means the end of eating all things that make you happy and the start of New Year Punishment, a ritual that includes the pushing around of sad-looking salads and the unenthusiastic motion of swinging mud-bars to and from your face with a half-grimace during every bite, otherwise known as eating protein or meal replacement bars.
New Year Punishment usually ends somewhere around the fourth or fifth day when a surge of hangry washes over you. This part results in the ceremonial hiding of the empty Cheeto bag just underneath the upside down Chips Ahoy box that’s been strategically placed beneath the brown paper bag from Five Guys that looks very similar to the brown paper bag from Whole Foods.
New year, new you, right?
Well, for me, the idea of “diet” and making drastic changes to my day and expecting my taste buds to suddenly enjoy things I don’t ever dream about eating (I can say with full confidence) doesn’t work. So, this year, I’ve replaced New Year Punishment with New Year Choices – same taste buds, different approach.
I mean, for Pete’s sake (sorry, Pete), I love food. And, the only reason why junk food was ever the last hoorah when the hangry took over was because I’d denied myself so much happiness (otherwise known as cheese, bacon, and chocolate) that I was desperate for anything that remotely resembled the things I love to eat.
Why in the heck was I repeatedly denying my love of food when there are plenty of flavor-packed choices I could have, and guess what, folks??? I can cook!
Geesh. So, I’ve decided to challenge myself. I will create healthier versions of everything I love to eat, and sometimes I’ll just make things I love that don’t need a healthier twist. I am simply making better New Year Choices because I deserve to be around for a long time.
Better choices that celebrate my love of food, remember? Not denial and tasteless choices that make me psychotic.
And, I’ll tell you another thing. I have every friggin’ exercise guru’s VCR (yes, VCR), DVD, BlueRay, poster, flipchart, and dance chart one could possibly imagine. And, I’ve taken just about every class that’s offered by anyone peddling a “fun” workout and been in every gym within a 20 mile radius of my home. In all the years I’ve been wasting money buying crap I don’t use or stopping doing whatever class after the hangry stage, there’s only one exercise that has ever made me happy.
Want to know why I love me some Turbo Jam?
Because it’s only 20 minutes, has fun music, includes Chalene telling me how awesome I am for making better choices, and I don’t want to kill her. She’s got me jammin’ and jumpin’ and movin’ and shakin’ for 20 minutes, and I don’t feel like I want to seek and destroy, much like many other programs in which I’ve participated. That’s why I love me some Turbo Jam. That’s it. No health aspect. No variety of cardio and strength training blah, blah, blah. No. I don’t want to kill her. I can stand it for 20 minutes. It makes me happy. Ahí esta.
And, this kick-off week to making better choices has been exactly what it should be, flavor-packed and fun. At no point did I find myself crying in a corner while hoarding Ding Dongs. It was good.
Here’s one of the many super-easy and tasty recipes that made the week successful.
1/2 Onion, frenched
2 Cups Asparagus
1/2 Cup Red Bell Pepper
4 Green Onion
6 Grape Tomatoes
1/4 Cup, Plain Panko Japanese Style Bread Crumbs
1 TBS Whole Grain Mustard
1 TBS Fresh Dill
1 TBS Fresh Chives
1 TBS Fresh Parsley
2 6oz Portion of Fresh Salmon
1 TBS Spanish Extra Virgin Olive Oil
1 TBS C&J Farms Scarborough Fair Herb Blend
Preheat oven to 375°.
Take one asparagus and bend it in half until it breaks on its own. Use that broken asparagus as your guide to trim the rest of your asparagus into a similar length. Set aside.
Cut zucchini and red bell pepper into matchsticks or long slices, and set aside. Slice the green onion on the bias, and set aside. French the onion and slice the grape tomatoes in half, and set aside. Finely chop the dill, chives, and parsley and place in a small bowl. Add the mustard and panko to the herb mixture and set aside.
In a large baking dish, add the zucchini, onion, asparagus, red bell pepper, green onion, and tomatoes. Drizzle with 3/4 TBS of olive oil, reserving the rest for later. Salt and pepper the vegetables, add the Scarborough Herb Blend, and toss everything together to coat evenly with oil and seasoning. Place the two salmon portions directly on top of the seasoned veggies. Salt and pepper each salmon portion.
Stir together the panko, herb, and mustard mixture. Add the rest of the olive oil to the panko mixture. Using a spoon or your fingers, crust the top of the salmon with the panko and herb mixture, ensuring the top of the salmon is completely covered. Bake at 375° for 20-30 minutes, depending on how well-cooked you prefer your salmon. And, enjoy every single flavorful bite – that dill and mustard pop makes every mouthful dance – I’m telling you.
So, here’s to making better choices! I look forward to sharing my adventures with you in 2017, and may you also journey through your own best adventure this year – because you deserve it.