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The Easiest, Tastiest Roasted Vegetables

I love to roast vegetables. It doesn’t make them mushy, but rather crunchy on the outside, warm on the inside and gives them a great smoky flavor. Plus, you can use whatever vegetables you want. In our house, we have to separate them into rows in the pan because my husband is convinced if certain vegetables touch the food he eats, he’ll die. Since I don’t want him to die from zucchini contact, we do ours in rows, but you can just as easily toss all the vegetables together.

Just cube up what veggies you want, drizzle them in avocado oil and season them with salt and pepper. Rather than do this in a bowl, I just toss the whole thing right on the pan.

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Then bake them in a 400 degree oven for 30-40 minutes. I like to go with 40 minutes because I like them to have some black char on them. If you’re not a fan of that, go with 30 minutes.

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Below I’ve listed the vegetables we used, but feel free to use whatever you like.

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No-Sugar Grilled Pineapple Rings

When we lived in Utah, we had a Brazilian neighbor. Every time she saw us, she’d invite us in for Brazilian food, which happens to be AMAZING! The meat and veggies were delicious, but my favorite part was the grilled pineapple. As it heats up, the sugars caramelize and the juices come out. It softens but somehow stays crunchy. It’s one of the most satisfying things in the world. The only problem was, it was covered in sugar. I was so sad to learn that she made it by covering it in brown sugar.

Fast forward to now. One day I had a hankering for that sugary, warm, juicy grilled pineapple. I decided there had to be a way to make it without the brown sugar. After all, pineapple is naturally sweet, so there’s no reason to add more sugar.

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The key is to start with a fresh pineapple. Canned rings just won’t do the trick. You need to start out with firm, crunchy rings to keep the nice crunchy texture after you grill them.

Then all I did was melt some coconut oil, add cinnamon and salt and brushed it on the pineapple rings.

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Then I passed them off to my manly husband to cook on the bbq grill next to some juicy steaks. Since this is both healthy and sweet, it works as a side dish, or a dessert.

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Backyard BBQ Foil Potatoes

Last weekend, we grilled burgers for dinner. We wanted potatoes with our burgers and decided to make them on the grill. Maybe we wanted to feel like pioneers (with our propane-fueled, electrical-started grill??). I’m not sure, we just decided we needed to make the potatoes on the grill. The experiment went really well.

My husband likes red potatoes, but the kids and I like sweet potatoes. My son, only like sweet potatoes seasoned one way and the rest of us are a bit tired of it. That was the first big plus with making the potatoes on the grill. We could make as many different kinds as we wanted.

We ended up with three different variations of potato packets.

The first:

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  • Red potatoes
  • Butter
  • Salt
  • Pepper
  • Italian Seasoning

The Second:

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  • Sweet potato
  • Butter
  • Season Salt
  • Cumin

The Third:

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  • Sweet potato
  • Butter
  • Salt
  • Pepper
  • Cinnamon

Just cube the potatoes and top them with seasonings and butter. I double wrapped the sweet potato packets because sweet potatoes release a sugary syrup when they cook. The red potatoes were fine in the single wrap.

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25 minutes on the grill and we each had our own delicious version of potatoes. These would also work really well on a campfire. Maybe that would make us more like pioneers.

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Healthy, Easy Cowboy Salsa

This is a recipe my mother-in-law made at a picnic. It’s so much better than a jarred salsa. It’s perfect with tortilla chips or crackers, but all I need is my face and the bowl. YUM!!!

In a colander, drain and rinse:

  • 1 can corn
  • 1 can black beans (I thought I had black beans and didn’t, so I used a can of pinto beans instead, which was also delicious. Despite my husband’s original claim that pinto beans are just a cheap imitation of black beans, he enjoyed it with the pinto beans as well).

Put the beans and corn in a large bowl and add:

  • 6 or 7 chopped roma tomatoes – They key to this part is to get the tomatoes about the same size as the beans and corn.
  • 1/2 bunch cilantro, chopped
  • 4 or 5 green onions – The easiest way I’ve found to chop green onions is to clip them with kitchen shears, similar to how you clip chives.

Toss this mixture together.

Then in a small bowl, combine:

  • 1 package powdered Italian dressing mix
  • the zest of one lime (this is optional, but I think it makes it even better!)
  • the juice of two limes

Pour this mixture over the salsa and toss. Cover the bowl and put it in the fridge so all the flavors can combine.


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Healthy Grain-Free Biscuits

I’m the youngest of three kids. The oldest is my brother. While he was a fabulous big brother (no really, he was) and is still one of my heroes, he was still a big brother and had to mock and tease me without remorse. In fact, now that we’re grown, he still feels it is his duty to mock me. It’s alright. I can take it.

So when I was a kid, whenever I did something I was particularly proud of and announced it to my family my brother would respond with, “Want a biscuit?” So now whenever anyone in our family tells us something they did, we respond with, “Want a biscuit?”

Hey speaking of biscuits; aren’t they delicious!? Yeah they are. A few nights ago we had soup for dinner and I thought “Yes. I DO want a biscuit!” But biscuits aren’t that fabulous for you. Because they are so dense, they are really loaded with processed, white flour which doesn’t provide any actual nutrients. I took the challenge to make a delicious, healthy biscuit and am happy to say, was very successful.

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Plus these come together quickly which is great since I usually decide I want bread 20 minutes before dinner.

My mom used to make biscuits by sifting the dry ingredients in a large metal sifter with a turn handle. I take the lazy way out and just whisk everything together.

Then add in some butter. Since the butter has to be cold, I cut it into small cubes before I add it. To cut it in you can use an actual pastry cutter, but I don’t have luck with pastry cutters. They seem more like medieval torture devices, so I just stick with smashing the butter in with two forks. For those of you who are wondering, “What in the world is she talking about with ‘cutting in?’ ” All this means is incorporating the butter into the dry ingredients. Rather than softening it and  beating it in like you do with cookies, you want to still see bits of butter. Your dough will look a bit like small pebbles when you finish this step.

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Traditional biscuits don’t always call for eggs, but since almond flour has no gluten, you really need the eggs to bind the biscuits together. As far as milk goes, I used almond milk but you can use coconut milk, cashew milk or regular milk or cream. Just use what you have and what works for you.

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You could roll these out and cut them into nice circles but that’s an extra step I’m not willing to take. That seems like far too much effort so I did these “drop biscuit” style. Sorry about the picture. I forgot to take one before I put them in the oven. Thank goodness I’d cleaned my oven earlier that week…

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After these cook, you definitely want to let them sit for a bit to cool. This helps them set a little better so they don’t crumble.

And now you can have bread with your soup without guilt.

Want a biscuit?

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Caprese Skewers

We’re not fancy people in our house. We spend Sunday afternoon in sweats, we spend more money on books than I do on make up, we eat every meal on mismatched plastic plates, and I have on several occasions walked into a store before realizing I was still wearing slippers. So the fact that I would take the time to make this “fancy” dish for a random Tuesday night dinner, shows how easy it is. I’m always trying to mix up how we eat our vegetables so we don’t get bored and this method is easy enough for any weeknight but still makes us feel “fancy.”

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It’s as easy as sticking everything on a skewer (or a long toothpick) and drizzling it with vinegar and salt and pepper.

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Depending on the size of the basil leaf, I either wrapped the leaf around the tomato or just layered it. It really doesn’t matter which you do. I also tried them with half a cherry tomato and a whole cherry tomato. Because my mouth is smaller, I preferred the tomatoes cut in half. But my sweet husband, who has a rather large mouth (I mean that in the best way. I really do love you, honey!), did great with the whole cherry tomato. It’s just a matter of what you like best.

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I used fresh mozzarella balls because they are so creamy, but feel free to cube up a brick of mozzarella instead. It will be a bit harder and the flavor is a little stronger, but I’ve used both with great results. I didn’t list exact measurements, but one package of basil (purchased with the organic herbs in the produce section) made enough skewers for four of us.

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Maybe one day I’ll serve these at a PTA dinner party, on a china platter, while wearing a pink cocktail dress. Until then, we’ll stick with our plastic plates and my over-sized Yoda t-shirt.

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Perfect Mashed Sweet Potatoes

When I was a little girl, my mom tried to give me a sweet potato for dinner. After tears, screaming and a fair amount of pouting, it was accepted in our house that I did not like sweet potatoes. I lived for years thinking this to be true until one day I decided to be daring and eat a sweet potato. It was like making a new best friend. Since that day we buy a large bag of sweet potatoes every week. We eat them as fries, as cubes, roasted, in potato salad, in breads and pancakes, baked and loaded, and most popularly, mashed. Mashed sweet potatoes serve as a great component to a lot of dishes. You can use them as a side dish or a base for meatballs or stew. After trial and error, I’ve found the best way to make mashed sweet potatoes.

You can cook the sweet potatoes by boiling them or baking them whole. I usually boil them.  Just peel, cube and boil them until they’re tender.

Then mash them with the coconut oil, milk and seasonings. They’re so easy and delicious! My 5-year-old does not like regular potatoes, but loves these mashed sweet potatoes. Enjoy your Christmas sweet potatoes!

 

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Healthy Italian Side Salad

I eat green salad at least once a day. So the other night when I set out a green salad for dinner, my four year old threw her head back, groaned and shouted to the heavens with arms outstretched, “Why do we always have to have salad?!” Since I don’t want my daughter to decide she hates vegetable because she’s sick of salad, I decided we needed another fresh veggie side dish. This is even easier to make than a green salad and has an ingredient that makes everything better: CHEESE!

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Chop your tomatoes, cucumbers and cheese to roughly the same size. This makes it easier to taste all the flavors of the salad.

I like to use an organic Italian salad dressing mix which I make with olive oil and apple cider vinegar, but use what you like best (balsamic tastes great also). Just make sure it doesn’t have added sugars or bad hydrogenated oils (canola oil, vegetable oil, etc).

Just mix everything together and serve.

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