15-Minute Zoodles with Turkey Marinara

When I was a little thing (probably six or seven) someone asked me what my favorite food was and I told them escargot. They thought I was kidding. I wasn’t.

My parents raised me to eat what was in front of me and not complain, and I thank them every single day for that. They didn’t feed me “kid food” like mac and cheese and cut up hot dogs. I got clam sauce spaghetti and mussels and liverwurst sandwiches growing up. It was awesome. Sure, we ate the occasional mac and cheese or sloppy Joe’s dinner – we were expats living in Germany, we needed to hold on to some American normalcy.

I guess my point is that I’ve never been afraid to try anything different. New foods excite me. And using familiar foods in new ways also gets my motor going.

Like zoodles. This is my new favorite meal. I won’t even lie, the reason I haven’t posted on the blog in over a week is because this is the only thing I’ve eaten in that time frame. (Other than cheese curds, pizza and beer in honor of March Madness. ON WISCONSIN!)

These pair well with a very carby, butter, cheesy garlic bread because this is far too healthy on its own. Also cheap red wine because, again, Wisco is Final Four-bound!!!

Zoodles

15-Minute Zoodles with Turkey Marinara

Makes 1 serving

What you need:

-1 tsp olive oil
-4 oz 99% fat free ground turkey
-1/4 cup sliced baby bella mushrooms
-1/4 cup cherry tomatoes, sliced in half lengthwise
-1/4 cup diced onion
-1/2 medium-large zucchini, spiralized or thinly sliced
-1/2 cup marinara sauce (I use Prego Light Smart)
-handful of spinach
-1/2 oz fresh Parmigiano Reggiano

(NOTE: This is the spiralizer I have. Cheap, doesn’t make the most beautiful zoodles, but it gets the job done. If you want them pretty, splurge for the Paderno one.)

What you do:

1. Heat the olive oil in a medium-large saute pan over medium heat until shiny. Add your ground turkey and let cook most of the way (not really pink but not browned), about 5 minutes, then add mushrooms, tomatoes and onion. Continue cooking veggies and turkey, stirring frequently, for about 3-5 minutes until turkey is slightly browned and veggies are softened. (Note: You don’t want these to dry out, so you may want to add a splash of water, about 1-2 tbsp.)

2. Add zoodles to pan and combine with turkey and veggies until heated through, about 1-2 minutes.

3. Turn heat down to low and add marinara sauce and spinach. Continue stirring spinach has wilted and sauce is heated, about 1 minute.

4. Remove from heat and serve in a bowl. Top with fresh grated parmesan.

I’ve also made this with shrimp instead of ground turkey. It’s ridiculously good either way. Personally, I don’t miss real pasta in this dish at all.

Anyway, this has been my adventure and obsession in food for the past week. Back to liverwurst sandwiches tomorrow.

Easy Shredded Chicken + 10-Minute Healthy Stir Fry

I went on my first real date when I was 15. I was a Freshman in high school, he was a Junior and we went to Panera. I’d been to Panera before, but that didn’t stop me from obsessing over the menu for hours before he picked me up to decide what to order. Can’t go with my usual Sierra Turkey – too many onions, DUH. Do girls really order salads when they go on dates? If so, how do you avoid the inevitable lettuce-in-your-teeth dilemma?

I went with the chicken salad sandwich. I mean, what? I can’t remember what my reasoning was. I’d probably had chicken salad twice before in my life. It immediately fell apart as I went to eat it. I basically spent the rest of our date scooping chicken salad off my plate and into my mouth with my fingers. Just reeked of mayo.

Do you know those moments in life that forever make you cringe? Like that time you waved at someone who was actually waving at the person behind you? Or that time you tried to impress someone by pretending to also like that band they like, but then you butchered the name?

I have those moments daily. But that first date stuck with me for a very long time. Couldn’t eat chicken for close to a year because of the cringing it induced.

Fortunately, chicken and I are friends again. Especially the shredded, coconut-infused variety.

This chicken pairs well with literally everything – put it on salads, in (Thai Coconut Curry) soup, stir fry. But it pairs especially nicely with a glass of white wine while you bask in the fact that you are now a sophisticated adult who does significantly fewer cringe-worthy things. But not none. It will never be none.

Shredded chicken ON a salad. (Not chicken salad, thank God.)

Shredded chicken ON a salad. (Not chicken salad, thank God.)

Easy Shredded Chicken

Makes two 4 oz servings

What you need:

-1/2 lb boneless, skinless chicken (breast or tenders, up to you – I prefer tenders)
-1 tsp coconut oil (or preferred oil, but it’s awesome like this)
-1 tsp garlic salt
-3/4 cup water

What you do:

1. Lay your chicken on a flat surface and sprinkle liberally on both sides with garlic salt.

2. Heat oil over medium heat in a medium-large nonstick skillet. When oil is hot, add chicken to pan.

3. Cook chicken on one side for 5 minutes, then flip to the other side and immediately add water to skillet so the chicken is mostly covered, with just the tops poking out. Cover and cook for 5-7 minutes.

4. Remove chicken from pan and put on a plate to cool. When you’re ready to use, it can be easily shredded with a fork or pulled apart with your fingers. Put it in whatever you want! Or add it to… stir fry! Recipe below.

Quick Stir Fry

10-Minute Healthy Stir Fry

Makes 1 serving

What you need:

-1 tsp sesame oil
-1 cup raw kale, stems removed, chopped into bite size pieces
-3-4 oz shredded chicken
-1/2 cup raw shiitake mushrooms
-1/8 cup green onion, chopped
-1/4 of a large red bell pepper, chopped
-1-2 tbsp reduced sodium soy sauce
-1 tbsp Kikkoman teriyaki glaze
-1 tbsp sriracha

What you do:

1. Heat oil over medium heat in a medium-large skillet. Add kale and cover pan for about 3 minutes to steam and soften slightly.

2. Add chicken, mushrooms, green onion and bell pepper all at once, stirring constantly. Add soy sauce, continuing to stir for about 3 more minutes.

3. When soy sauce has reduced slightly and all veggies are mostly softened, add sriracha and teriyaki glaze, stirring for another minute or two.

4. Immediately remove from heat and serve, topped with some additional green onion or cilantro if you have it.

Enjoy this dish with a side of the fact that you are not 15 anymore.

Sweet Potato BBQ Turkey Sliders

Finger foods are hard for me. I’m the girl at your party posted up by the plate of sliders, deviled eggs, lil smokies, pigs in a blanket… etc. etc. If it’s tiny and can be eaten with my hands, I’m not talking to anyone. I’m sitting there stuffing my face. I start to feel competitive about eating all your finger food, glaring at anyone who dares infringe on my territory. And before you know it, I’ve put down half your platter and made no friends. Don’t invite me anywhere.

The only way to keep finger foods safe around me is if they’re made and served in individual portions. Like these mildly healthy sweet potato BBQ turkey sliders. So, so good. And I can make them in pairs. Much safer this way.

These pair well with tiny drinks and tiny sides.

FitMenCook Sliders

Sweet Potato BBQ Turkey Sliders

Adapted from FitMenCook, yields 2 sliders

What you need:
-1/3 of a large sweet potato, cut into four equal rounds
-1/4 red bell pepper
-4 oz cold cut turkey (I used Applegate Farms)
-1 oz Pecorino cheese (or mozzarella or any other cheese of choice!)
-2 tbsp BBQ sauce

What you do:
1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Lay your four sweet potato rounds down flat – these will act as the bun of your sliders.

2. Cut bell pepper into two equal pieces and place on top of two of your sweet potato rounds, then top each of those with 2 oz of turkey, 1/2 oz of cheese and 1 tbsp of BBQ sauce. Place the other two rounds on the top and use a wooden skewer to fasten them into place.

3. Place both on a baking sheet and coat with a tiny bit of canola oil. Bake in the preheated oven for about 30-45 minutes.

If you make more than two, don’t invite me over.

I’m-Hungover-But-Don’t-Want-to-be-Fat Cauliflower Fried “Rice”

I used to get really hungover in college. Don’t get me wrong – I also get the occasional pukey, head-pounding headache hangover these days. But nothing compared to college.

And in my hungover brain, calories never matter. Anything I can choke down that won’t come back up will do the trick to cure it. Preferably very greasy. Preferably of the Asian persuasion. Preferably college budget-approved.

In Madison, there’s this place called Asian Kitchen. Everything they serve is loaded with MSG. I love it. They make this lo mein that I always used to eat when I was hungover. One minute I would be on my deathbed and after eating an entire quart (no, literally) of that lo mein, with about half a cup of grease pooling at the bottom, I felt like a million bucks.

But like, I got a lil porky the year I ate the most lo mein. And I’m pretty sure it was the lo mein. Not all the alcohol that led to the hangovers that led to the lo mein. Yeah. Pretty sure.

Anyway, this is a guilt-free, paleo, vegetarian, every-diet-under-the-sun-approved alternative for my current, “adult” hangovers. You know, if I have some left over. I am obviously not capable of cooking while hungover.

Cauliflower Fried Rice

Paleo & Vegetarian Cauliflower Fried “Rice”
(Adapted from SkinnyTaste)
Serves 4

What you need:

1 medium head cauliflower
cooking spray
2 large eggs, beaten (vegans omit)
1 tbsp sesame oil
1/2 medium onion, finely diced
1-2 large carrots, finely diced
1/2 medium head broccoli, chopped into small florets
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 tsp ginger powder
4 tbsp low sodium soy sauce
1 tsp fish sauce (vegans omit)
2 tbsp Sambal Oelek (Asian chili sauce; omit if you don’t want spicy – you could also substitute Sriracha, which I’m assuming more people have on hand)

What you do:

Rinse cauliflower thoroughly, remove stem and roughly chop into small florets. In batches, fit as many florets as you can into a food processor and process until fine, but not mush. (I have a mini food processor that only holds 2 cups at the moment, so I had a lot of batches and I ended up making it a little too fine, like cous cous, which was okay. Do yourself a favor and use a bigger one.) Set cauliflower “rice” aside.

In a small bowl, beat eggs. Coat a large saute pan with cooking spray and place over medium heat. Once warm, add eggs and scramble. Don’t over cook. Set aside.

In the same pan over medium heat, add sesame oil and saute onion, carrots and broccoli until tender, about 4-5 minutes. You may want to cover for about a minute to steam the broccoli. Add garlic and ginger and stir to combine over heat for an additional minute.

photo 2

Raise heat to medium-high and add cauliflower “rice,” soy sauce, fish sauce and Sambal Oelek. Mix, cover pan and cook cauliflower, stirring frequently, until tender inside but slightly crispy outside, about 6 minutes. Mix in the egg.

photo 3

Remove from heat and enjoy! You may choose to top this with some scallions (I had none) and adjust seasoning to taste. I think cooked shrimp or tofu would also be a welcome addition.

Pairs well with cheap sake and/or a bad hangover.