Creamy Chicken Sausage and Spinach Pasta

Creamy Chicken Sausage and Spinach Pasta 1

Sometimes I wonder what kind of patient I would be if I were to go see a dietitian.

This morning, my patients couldn’t have been any more different. I saw everything from a Spanish-speaking vegetarian to a tearful diabetic, to a newly diagnosed diabetic whose diet was impeccable…but deathly afraid of needles. Never a dull moment when it comes to patients.

One of them was a self-proclaimed junk food junkie. Honesty is good. Honesty gets us to a place where we can makes changes. Plus, if we’re being honest, who doesn’t LOVE junk food?

Creamy Chicken Sausage and Spinach Pasta 2

I can’t say that I’m a junk food junkie, but I sure want to be these days. This weekend was an absolute train wreck diet-wise and…yeah. Don’t judge me! Luckily for me, my body needing additional calories to support baby growth is hugely helpful as I didn’t gain weight over the weekend, per the dreaded scale this morning. I was just sure that I was going to be up eighty-four pounds or so.

I’m not having “cravings”, but I just don’t want anything healthy. Of course I make a smoothie or grab an apple or have a salad for lunch and everything’s delicious and wonderful, but I am still gravitating towards sinful carbs and bacon and sweets and..mmmmmmm.

Creamy Chicken Sausage and Spinach Pasta 3

I did mention carbs, right? Oh man. I always love pasta, but pasta like this? It’s cause enough to induce the worst of cravings for anyone and everyone. This dish looks and sounds alright (my pictures do it NO justice, by the way…I was way to anxious to eat), but the flavor itself is out. of. this. world. good.

Mascarpone cheese and wine? Heavenly. Add garlic, ohh baby. Spinach and tomatoes, because, well, there’s some healthfulness to the dish. And chicken sausage for that lean protein. It’s perfection.

Creamy Chicken Sausage and Spinach Pasta 4

Creamy Chicken Sausage and Spinach Pasta
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 6
 
ABSOLUTELY divine. This recipe tops the charts for me, no doubt.
Ingredients
  • 8 oz dry whole wheat pasta
  • 1 Tbsp olive oil
  • 1 small onion, diced
  • ½ tsp Kosher salt
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 tsp dried oregano
  • ½ cup (4 oz) dry white wine
  • 1 (14 oz) can no salt added diced tomatoes, undrained
  • 12 oz chicken sausage, sliced into rounds
  • 7 oz fresh spinach
  • 1 cup (8 oz) mascarpone cheese
  • 2 Tbsp Parmesan cheese, grated
Instructions
  1. Bring 3-4 quarts of water to a rolling boil in a large pot. Add pasta, stir, and cook 9-12 minutes or until al dente. Drain and set aside.
  2. Meanwhile, heat the olive oil in a very large skillet over medium-high heat. Once hot, add the onion and salt and saute onions for 5-7 minutes, until they start to soften. Mix in the oregano and garlic; cook for 30 seconds, until fragrant. Add the wine and allow to simmer for 2-3 minutes or until mostly absorbed. Stir the tomatoes, reduce the heat to medium-low, and simmer for 8-10 minutes.
  3. Add the sausage and spinach to the top of the mixture and cover the pan for 2-3 minutes to allow the spinach to start wilting; mix to continue wilting. Stir the mascarpone and Parmesan until melted and creamy. Add pasta and mix well. Serve hot.
Notes
Recipe from Smells Like Home
Nutrition Information
Serving size: scant 2 cups Calories: 450 Fat: 23.3 Carbohydrates: 35.0 Sugar: 4.2 Sodium: 599 Fiber: 6.3 Protein: 19.0 Cholesterol: 102

 How good was The Voice last night? Adam was cracking me up and Usher…mmmm!

Be well,

sig4

Honey-Lime Tequila Shrimp Tacos with Avocado and Chipotle Cream {Flavor MyPlate}

Honey Lime Tequila Shrimp Tacos 1

When approached by McCormick to be one of their Health & Wellness Content Partners, there was no decision to be made. No matter what level of cooking one participates in, spices and flavor are a must. There are countless ways to make a recipe full of flavor, some healthier than others (cough, cough…saturated fat, salt, and sugar…not-so-healthy, cough cough). My pantry and cabinets are chock full of spices – I’m sure I have every last one in my arsenal of flavor. As someone who loves to cook, I understand the significant role of spices in delicious, healthy cooking.

I’ve never had a great burger that didn’t have some garlic powder and onion powder thrown in. Have you ever had pancakes with cardamom? I’m sure you’re not alone if your answer is no – but seriously, get on that. Indian dishes are so fun to recreate because their focus is on the perfect combination of spices – everything from garam masala (a blend of spices) to cumin to cayenne to turmeric. And the resulting beauty of color? Stunning. Spices can be easily incorporated into marinades, dressings, breadings, batters, mixes, doughs, dry rubs…you name it! If you’re not adventurous with spices, it’s time to expand your horizons.

Honey Lime Tequila Shrimp Tacos 2

Some of you may be aware that in recent years, the food pyramid transformed into “MyPlate”. Simply put, nutrition was overwhelming, hard to quantify and qualify in daily living, and entirely over-complicated for the simple fact that most of us would simply benefit from better balance. More good, less not-so-good. More specifically, more fruits, vegetables, and whole grains and less processed foods that are high in salt, sugar, and unhealthy fats…and probably less protein, too. Have you weighed a store-bought chicken breast in recent years? That baby may weigh upwards of 12-14 ounces – a far cry from an actual serving of chicken.

And so began the movement to create a plate (MyPlate) that was half fruits and vegetables, and roughly ¼ grain and ¼ protein with a serving of dairy. Balance…with more of the good. Personally, I like the plate method, but it has its drawbacks. For someone like myself who rarely sits down to a meal comprised of individual components of fruit, vegetable, grain, protein, and dairy, the MyPlate still leaves room for some interpretation.

Honey Lime Tequila Shrimp Tacos 3

Take for example these tacos (they tasted even better than they look, promise!). Corn tortillas offer up a nutritional edge over white flour tortillas by way of vitamins, minerals, and perhaps most importantly, fiber. Plus, they taste way better (heat them over a range burner for a slight char – mmmm!!).

Shrimp are a low-calorie protein that cook super quickly, making them perfect for a weeknight meal. Plus, they marinade quickly and take on lots of flavor. In the marinade, ancho chili powder and perhaps my most favorite spice, cumin, are used to add Mexican flavor and depth. A bit of salt (just a bit!) helps to accentuate the flavors themselves…and the tequila, honey, and lime – well, the combination is just amazing. I suggest throwing the shrimp in the marinade and grabbing a quick workout before dinner as they swim in the flavor. From that point, this meal comes together in minutes with flavonoid-packed onion and antioxidant rich fresh cilantro, as well as healthful avocado (technically, a fruit!). The red cabbage is not only full of anthocyanin but it’s also stunning and adds the perfect crunch to the taco. Adding a side of corn would be a great accompaniment to this meal…or perhaps some Vegan Crock Pot Refried Beans? Talk about good for you food that’s packed with flavor (spices!).

Honey Lime Tequila Shrimp Tacos 4

Honey-Lime Tequila Shrimp Tacos with Avocado and Chipotle Cream
Author: 
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 4 (2 tacos each)
 
Ingredients
Tacos:
  • ½ tsp salt
  • 2 Tbsp honey
  • juice of 2 limes
  • ½ cup tequila
  • 1 tsp ground cumin
  • ¼ tsp ancho chili powder
  • 1 lb raw shrimps, peeled and deveined
  • 1 medium onion, thinly sliced
  • 1 tsp olive oil
  • 1 avocado, diced
  • 2 cups red cabbage, thinly sliced
  • 8 (6-inch) corn tortillas
  • ½ cup fresh cilantro, minced
Chipotle Cream
  • juice of 1 lime
  • ½ cup 2% plain Greek yogurt
  • ½ to 1 chipotles in adobo
  • ¼ tsp salt
Instructions
  1. In a medium bowl, whisk to combine the salt, honey, juice of 2 limes, tequila, cumin, and ancho chili powder. Add the shrimp and thinly sliced onion; toss well to coat shrimp and onion well; refrigerate for 1-2 hours.
  2. In a large skillet, heat the olive oil over medium-high heat. From the marinade, add the onion and then the shrimp, cooking 4-5 minutes or until onion are tender and translucent and shrimp are pink.
  3. Meanwhile, blend or food process the Chipotle Cream ingredients together and transfer to a small bowl for serving.
  4. To assemble tacos, place 2 ounces of shrimp and several onion slices on each tortilla. Top with red cabbage, avocado, cilantro and the Chipotle Cream. Serve immediately.
Notes
Recipe adapted from Tartine and Apron Strings

The onions need a bit longer to cook than the shrimp, so try using tongs to add the onion first and then the shrimp to avoid over-cooking the shrimp.
Nutrition Information
Serving size: 2 tacos Calories: 411 Fat: 12.3 Carbohydrates: 39.8 Sugar: 8.0 Sodium: 486 Fiber: 7.8 Protein: 30.5 Cholesterol: 152

 Using spices and combinations of spices not only helps to increase flavor and taste, but aids in decreasing the use of salt, sugar, and fat in most recipes. Get creative, get cookin’!

Disclaimer: I was compensated for this post as a contribution to the 2014 McCormick Health & Wellness Blogger Program. All opinions are my own.

Be well,

sig4

 

Tortellini Chili

Tortellini Chili1

Has anyone else seen that Facebook photo/joke that shows a snowy yard with snow-covered trees and the caption says something about not dyeing the Easter eggs and just saying “good luck!” to the kids? I laughed, like, really hard at that one.

The talk around the Great Lakes is that our long-awaited beach time during the summer may never come to fruition. Lake Michigan is still very frozen and it’s um, almost April. No bueno. And let’s be honest, I want to talk about something other than the weather. It’s….time.

Tortellini Chili 2

At least artichokes are 3 for $2? I know, a steal! (Not really, but kind of. For artichokes.)

The asparagus is delicious. And $1.99/lb. The stalks aren’t bamboo-like, but instead tender and…crying out for my grill.

Lily sees the sun, begs to go out, and moments later, is begging to come in. This goes on constantly. The sun is teasing the dog to the point I feel downright terrible for her. And there is no exaggeration in the following: I think we need to get her screened for diabetes. Between fatigue, increased thirst, and frequent potty breaks…I think being sedentary since October is finally affecting her health. (LORD, let’s hope I’m wrong.)

Tortellini Chili 3

For now, one foot in front of the next. One day closer to a potentially warmer month. One day closer to flip flops, sundresses, and vitamin D. People, I GLOW. Quite literally, I am illuminated in paleness. *sigh*

To ease us from one day to the next, comfort food can only help. This dish is chili meets soup meets pasta. It’s the best of all worlds that comes together in 30 minutes or less, reheats superbly, and comes in right at 450 calories for a piping hot bowl of goodness. It’s not 80 degree weather. Or 70, or 60, or 50…not even 45, but hey, it’s good. And perfect to be enjoyed as we will warmer weather our way.

Tortellini Chili 4

4.0 from 1 reviews
Tortellini Chili
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 5
 
No need to choose a hearty chili or a comforting pasta...have BOTH! :) This works oh so well!
Ingredients
  • 1 Tbsp olive oil
  • 1 onion, diced
  • 3 cloves garlic, chopped
  • 1½ Tbsp chili powder
  • 1 tsp paprika
  • 1 tsp ground cumin
  • 1 lb 96% lean ground beef
  • 4 cups low-sodium beef broth or chicken broth
  • 1 (15 oz) can black beans, drained and rinsed
  • 1 (28 oz) can diced tomatoes
  • 1 Tbsp tomato paste
  • 1 tsp oregano
  • 9 oz fresh spinach and cheese tortellini
  • ¼ tsp cayenne, more or less to taste
Instructions
  1. Heat the olive oil in a pot over medium-high heat. Once hot, add the onions and saute until tender, about 3-5 minutes. Add the garlic, chili powder, paprika, and cumin and cook until fragrant, about 1 minute.
  2. Add the beef and cook until browned, breaking up with a wooden spoon, about 6-8 minutes. If needed, drain any excess grease.
  3. To the pot, add the broth, beans, diced tomatoes, tomato paste, and oregano, bringing to a simmer. Once simmering, add the tortellini and cool until tender and cooked through, about 10 minutes. Serve immediately with toppings of choice.
Notes
Recipe from Closet Cooking
Nutrition Information
Serving size: ⅕ recipe (about 1⅔ cups) Calories: 455 Fat: 12.0 Carbohydrates: 53.2 Sugar: 8.0 Sodium: 646 Fiber: 11.0 Protein: 34.8 Cholesterol: 80

 Over the hump…I think I can, I think I can.

Be well,

sig4

Chili Mac + Weekly Menu

Chili Mac 1

My in-laws came in for a bit of the weekend and I was excited to see them. Yes, I’m fortunate…I actually like my in-laws. Quite a lot, actually. They also brought their very youthful dog, Harry, who was quite the handful for our lazy Lily dog.

My father-in-law has turned into an avid beer connoisseur, and his favorite beers tend to be IPA’s. Mmmm…my favorite (good thing he’s a good sharer!). He’s also helpful around the house — he and Mr. P tightened the legs on the chairs to our dining table, hung photos, and a few other handy man-like tasks we’ve been putting off ourselves. (Mr. Prevention isn’t all that handy ;) !)

Chili Mac 2

My mother-in-law is very health conscious and always up for recipe suggestions, though she much prefers the easy recipe selections ;) (I don’t blame her one bit!). She’s easy going and reads my blog often. Mr. Prevention will even tell me, “I don’t know why my parents bother calling to find out what’s going on, they know more by just reading your blog.”

That may only be a slight exaggeration…

Chili Mac 3

My mother-in-law said this weekend that she’s been preparing a few meals on Sundays that they can eat on during the week. I’m a fan of leftovers and this methodology. Even though day light savings will allow for a bit more evening daylight, spending those precious moments in the kitchen isn’t always my first choice. Leftovers are a beautiful, beautiful thing.

This recipe, for example….we had LOTS of leftovers. The glass casserole dish pictured above was HALF of this recipe (I made the full recipes, but photographed half). The portions are very generous and this is a perfect dish for a crowd…or leftovers. Or both. Plus, there’s nothing not to love about cheesy pasta with tender veggies, lean protein, and lots of flavor…and fiber!

Chili Mac 4

Chili Mac
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 8
 
Makes a TON, but reheats great! This recipe can easily be halved or frozen for a later date. I used the full teaspoon of crushed red pepper and it was the perfect amount of heat. Enjoy!
Ingredients
  • 12 oz uncooked whole wheat rotini
  • 1 (15 oz) can red kidney beans, drained and rinsed
  • 1 Tbsp olive oil
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 lb cremini mushrooms, sliced
  • 20 oz ground turkey breast
  • 1 green bell pepper, chopped
  • 4 tsp ground cumin
  • 2 tsp dried oregano
  • 1 tsp kosher salt
  • 1 tsp smoked paprika
  • 1 tsp ancho chile powder
  • 1 tsp freshly ground black pepper
  • ¼ to 1 tsp ground red pepper
  • 4 cups lower-sodium marinara sauce
  • Cooking spray
  • 4 oz part-skim 2% cheddar cheese, shredded (about 1 cup)
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 350 F.
  2. Cook pasta in boiling water until almost al dente. Drain. Combine pasta and beans in an extra large bowl.
  3. Heat a large skillet over medium heat. Add oil to pan; swirl to coat. Once hot, add onion and cook 3-4 minutes. Add mushrooms and cook an additional 5-6 minutes. Add garlic and cook 30-60 seconds or until fragrant.
  4. To the skillet, add turkey; cook 5 minutes or until done, breaking up to crumble. When no longer pink, add bell pepper and next 7 ingredients (through red pepper); cook 1 minute. Stir in marinara sauce; bring to a summer.
  5. Add marinara mixture to pasta mixture; toss to coat. Divide mixture evenly between 2 (2-quart) glass baking dishes coated with cooking spray. Top evenly with cheese.
  6. Bake for 10 minutes or until cheese melts.
Notes
Recipe from Cooking Light
Nutrition Information
Serving size: 1½ cups Calories: 427 Fat: 11.5 Carbohydrates: 54.1 Sugar: 9.9 Sodium: 646 Fiber: 10.6 Protein: 32.6 Cholesterol: 38

 Weekly Menu: March 9th – March 13th

Laundry, here I come.

Be well,

sig4

Hoisin Pork with Rice Noodles

Hoisin Pork with Rice Noodles 1

I’m a Groupon novice because littletown Michigan doesn’t offer any cool local Groupons. But around the holidays, we gifted both of our families with family portraits. It had been…never…since we had family photos taken. It has been since Mr. P and I got hitched nearly 5 years ago, in fact.

It was a great gift and the shots turned out super cute.

But then came the ordering part…the Groupon part.

Hoisin Pork with Rice Noodles 2

Thinking I was being soooo savvy, I purchased a few different Groupons for fun prints — canvases, wood, burlap…lots of fun stuff. Leave it to me, however, not to read the find print. I had to place each order individually and ship each individually. At $9.99 a pop.

Let’s not discuss how many of these various Groupon “steals” I purchased and redeemed. It’s too bad it was too good to be true. I guess I just assume the logical thing would have been to redeem several Groupons in the same order.

BOOOOOONK.

Hoisin Pork with Rice Noodles 3

Since I spent half my savings in shipping costs to redeem my Groupons, I felt the need to be thrifty with dinner. Orrrrrrrr I just wanted this 1 pound tenderloin out of freezer. Freezer space is prime real estate in a foodie’s home.

Katie raved about this recipe and whole-heartedly trusting her foodie opinion, I was pumped to try this super easy, very flavorful dish. And that it was. We thoroughly enjoyed this meal and I just as much appreciated how quickly it came together and how great it reheated as leftovers. Easy peasy.

Hoisin Pork with Rice Noodles 4

4.5 from 4 reviews
Hoisin Pork with Rice Noodles
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 5
 
Ready in minutes...this simple meal is not short on flavor!
Ingredients
  • ⅓ cup low-sodium soy sauce
  • ¼ cup water
  • 2 Tbsp olive oil
  • 2 Tbsp sugar
  • 1 tsp fish sauce
  • 3 Tbsp rice vinegar
  • 3 Tbsp hoisin sauce
  • juice of half a lime
  • 2 cloves garlic, finely minced
  • 1 Tbsp Sriracha
  • 1 lb pork tenderloin, cut into thin strips
  • 10 oz dry rice noodles
  • 2 carrots, peeled and grated
Instructions
  1. In a medium bowl, whisk together the soy sauce, water, oil, sugar, fish sauce, vinegar, hoisin, lime juice, garlic and Sriracha. Add pork and turn to coat pork pieces; cover and allow to marinade overnight in the fridge.
  2. Heat a skillet over medium-high heat. Once hot, add the pork and marinade, heating to cook the pork until cooked through, about 6-8 minutes.
  3. Meanwhile, prepare the noodles per package instructions. Toss the cooked noodles and carrots with the cooked pork and sauce. Serve immediately.
Notes
Recipe from Pinch of Yum, as seen on So Tasty, So Yummy
Nutrition Information
Serving size: ~1 cup noodles and 3.5 oz pork Calories: 413 Fat: 8.8 Carbohydrates: 58.0 Sugar: 14.4 Sodium: 899 Fiber: 2.0 Protein: 25.2 Cholesterol: 52

Have a super day :)

Be well,

sig4