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Mexican Chopped Salad & Shrimp Kabobs

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The warm weather has finally made its way to Knoxville and I am so excited! This means hiking, laying by the pool, outdoor breweries, and new summer recipes. There are some veggies that thrive in the winter months such as kale, parsnips, butternut squash, and brussels sprouts. Spring and summer veggies are lettuce, avocados, tomatoes, and zucchini.

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Typically when the summer roles around I try to move away from heartier comfort foods that I eat all winter long, and transition to lighter veggies and proteins. Shrimp is perfect for this recipe because it’s easy to make and tastes great with most seasonings. I love that this recipe is in line with a paleo diet. I’ve really been focused on cutting carbs, dairy, and excess sugar.

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The reason for cutting these things out of my diet has to do with a podcast I have been listening to called The Paleo Solution. It is lead by Robb Wolf, a paleo enthusiast. He brings on GI doctors, thyroid specialists, and other guests that talk about different food experiments that they’ve been doing. It’s amazing how out gut is directly tied to our health and how our general well-being is so dependent on what you put into your body.

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It’s so important to listen to your body and give it the nutrients it needs. I’ve found it easy to eat foods like this Mexican salad because the fresh veggies are packed with flavor. This meal definitely settles the argument that healthy foods don’t have any flavor…. That’s simply not true! I just add some delicious seasonings and it transforms my entire meal!

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Ingredients
For Shrimp…
-6 medium sized shrimp
-1 tsp olive oil
-1/2 tsp lime juice
-1/4 tsp garlic powder
-S & P (to taste)
For Lime Vinaigrette Dressing…
-2 Tbsp olive oil
-1 Tbsp red wine vinegar
-1 Tbsp lime juice
-1/2-1 tsp ground cumin
-2 cloves garlic (minced)
-S & P (to taste)
For Salad…
-3 cups chopped romaine lettuce
-1/4 cup corn
-1/4 cup black beans
-a few slices of red onion
-avocado: optional

Directions
Begin my seasoning your shrimp with olive oil, lime juice, garlic powder, S & P. Set aside to marinate. If you want to cook your shrimp kabob style, soak your wooden skewers in water so the wood does not burn while cooking. Otherwise you can toss them in a pan and sauté them freely. To mix your dressing combine olive oil, red wine vinegar, lime juice, cumin, minced garlic, S & P- mix well. Set aside. In a mixing bowl add you chopped romaine lettuce, corn, black beans, and red onions. Toss your salad and drizzle on the lime vinaigrette dressing. Start heating a skillet with some olive oil on medium-high heat and transfer your salad to a plate. Add your shrimp and sauté freely or add your kabobs. Cook about 2 minutes each side. These shrimp cook very quickly so watch them closely. Add the shrimp on top of the salad. Add a few slice of avocado and enjoy!

Roasted Vegetables

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Roasted vegetables are the best! Easy, healthy, and delicious. I make dishes like this very often- mostly because it makes enough for a few meals and it goes with chicken, fish, or beef.

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My life motto is to try and make the healthy choice… you know, something that fuels your body with the right nutrients and makes you feel good! I eat these roasted veggies by themselves, on top of salads, or with protein.

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The fact that they are so versatile makes me more motivated to make them during the week. So pretty much, there is no excuse to not get in the kitchen and throw something yummy together!

Ingredients
-2 cups broccoli florets
-2 cups brussels sprouts (quartered)
-1 cup white pearl onions (quartered)
-~1/4 cup olive oil (add more if needed)
-4 large cloves garlic (minced)
-S & P to taste
-optional: red pepper flakes

Directions
Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Cut all of your vegetables and spread them evenly in a pyrex baking dish. Drizzle with olive oil and toss. Sprinkle with salt, pepper, and minced garlic and toss again. Place in the oven for ~20 minutes (give of take a few minutes) or until veggies look wilted and tender. This dish is a great side as it pairs with most proteins well. Enjoy!

Sweet Potato Gnocchi

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My go to comfort food is always some form of Italian- it’s simple, yet so delicious. I’m not sure if it’s the carbs, olive oil, or garlic, but they all sound sooooo appetizing. At the same time I really strive to be healthy, even if I go for comfort food…

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When you think about the food you buy at the grocery, whether it’s processed or pre-prepared… it begs the question… what’s actually in my food?

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I am not saying you should ditch your pasta, because ease is sometimes necessary when you find that your days are overly busy. It’s also amazing- pasta with marinara sauce is so yummy! But If you have a free weekend you should definitely try your hand at making your own pasta. I tried making gnocchi because it was so simple to make and I had all the ingredients in my kitchen.

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I had some sweet potatoes left in my apartment so I decided to try my hand at home-made gnocchi. Most people add some ricotta cheese to enhance the flavor a bit, but I didn’t have any cheese in my fridge so I did without. Surprisingly, gnocchi was simple to make and was pretty good! Next time I want to try regular potatoes with marinara sauce. Another alternative with sweet potato gnocchi would be some type of brown butter sauce, I think it would really enhance the sweetness of the sweet potatoes!

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Ingredients
…gnocchi…
-flour
-2 medium sweet potatoes
-1 egg
-S & P (~1/4-1/2 tsp)
…chicken…
-2 large chicken breasts (cut longways- “chicken finger style”)
-1/4 cup olive oil
-1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
-juice from 1/2 lemon
-1 tsp minced garlic
-S & P (~1/4-1/2 tsp)
…balsamic brussels sprouts…
-2 cups brussels sprouts (quartered)
-3/4 cup red onions (sliced)
-2 Tbsp olive oil
-2 Tbsp Balsamic vinegar
-1/4 tsp S & P and red pepper flakes
-4 cloves garlic minced

Directions
Begin by preparing your chicken and marinade by placing all ingredients in a gallon baggy, mixing it up, and placing in the fridge for at least two hours.

For the gnocchi, use a fork to poke holes in each sweet potato and microwave until they are soft. Peel the sweet potatoes and put the soft insides in a small mixing bowl. Then crack an egg in the bowl and mix until it reaches an even consistency. Add S & P and mix. Slowly add flour while you turn the gnocchi dough over itself. I did not have an exact measurement for the amount of flour I used, I just kept adding it little by little until it reached a firm and non-sticky consistency. Then divide the dough into three small chunks and roll each out like a long snake to about 1/2 inch width. Cut each piece about 3/4 inch to an inch- I just tried to make mine bite sized! Place your uncooked gnocchi pieces in a bowl and set aside.

Begin to boil water while you cut your brussels in to fourths (if they are larger cut hem into sixths), then chop your onions. Heat olive oil in a pan to medium heat and add your brussels sprouts and onion.
When your water begins to boil add your gnocchi (this may take a few rounds), cook until the gnocchi pieces rise to the surface. The cook time for gnocchi is very short, mine took maybe 3-4 minutes! Scoop your gnocchi pieces out with a spoon, draining all the water, then place in a bowl.

When your brussels and onions become very tender add the garlic and balsamic vinegar. Then combine your gnocchi and brussels sprouts into one pan, turn off heat and cover with a lid.

In a separate pan cook your chicken on medium to high heat about 3-4 minutes on each side. Pour all the marinade into the pan to make sure the chicken becomes extra flavorful. Cut into a piece to see if the chicken is fully cooked. Grab a plate and put the gnocchi and brussels mixture on first, then top with the balsamic chicken. Enjoy!

Stuffed Bell Peppers

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Every time I log onto pinterest or google and type ‘healthy meals’ in the search bar, stuffed bell peppers almost always pop up- and for good reasons. They are easy, healthy, tasty, and last well in the fridge.

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When it comes to my daily schedule I live by this “healthy in a hurry” mantra, because I always look up and find my time is cut short. I don’t like opting for an easy fix like take out- it costs extra money and is not the healthiest choice. That’s what makes these stuffed bell peppers amazing for meal prep!

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The color is what make this dish so pretty- bell peppers are so vibrant and packed with flavor and nutrients. The mushrooms were my meat substitute, but can easily be replaced with tofu, chicken or beef! Just make sure that if you use chicken that it is precooked.

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These would be great for a group of people, they’re easy to pick up, you can make multiple at one time, and they’re hassle free. After making them I realized why they are so ‘trendy’ on social media as far as healthy recipes- they make the whole ‘healthy in a hurry’ motto very possible.

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I’m actually not entirely sure how you are supposed to eat these stuffed bell peppers, but I definitely used my hands… as if it they were burritos! They definitely pack a Mexican flavor so I figured it was acceptable! Anyway you choose to eat these tasty stuffed bell peppers, I hope you enjoy them!

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Ingredients
-3 large bell peppers
-1/2 cup farro (dried)
-1/3 cup red onions (chopped)
-1/2 cup mushrooms (chopped)
-1/3 cup bell pepper (chopped)
-optional: cheese for toppings
… seasoning
-2 Tbs olive oil
-2 large cloves garlic (minced)
-1/2 tsp roasted ground corriander
-1/2 tsp cumin
-1/2 tsp smoked paprika
-1/2 tsp red pepper flakes
-S & P to taste

Directions
Preheat oven to 425 degrees. On the stove begin cooking your farro (or if you prefer quinoa or rice that’s okay too) according to package directions. Cut the tops off of all three bell peppers and cut out the seeds, place in a baking dish and set aside. Take the remaining bell pepper and chop it into small pieces. Put these bell pepper pieces in a bowl and add chopped mushrooms and chopped red onions. When the farro (or your grain of choice) is done cooking, add it to your bowl of chopped vegetables. Pour the olive oil, garlic, and seasonings over the farro and veggies then stir until all ingredients are evenly mixed. With a spoon, scoop the farro mixture into each bell pepper cup until they are full. Place in the oven and cook of about 20 minutes or until the cell peppers looked slightly wilted. Remove from oven and drizzle olive oil ontop or add some shredded cheese. Serve and enjoy!

Sweet Potato & Quinoa Breakfast Bowl

Breakfast… the most important meal of the day! I’ll admit, sometimes we get in a food rut and make the same boring eggs every morning. Probably due to ease or that you may be under a time crunch. Either way, you shouldn’t settle for less!

In my opinion, if your food has had a life then it is probably nutritious and good for you. This sweet potato & quinoa breakfast bowl takes a bit of prep, but you can make a larger batch ahead of time and have a few breakfasts for the week.

When I make this breakfast I put a big scoop of sautéed kale, sweet potato hash, and quinoa into the bowl. In the meantime I cook an egg and get some salsa and avocado.

I love the way this dish looks after it’s complete, and it tastes even better! It’s what I like to call healthy “comfort food”. It’s lean, packed with protein, and delicious!

Ingredients
Sweet Potato Hash
-1 large sweet potato (cubed)
-1 red bell pepper (chopped)
-1/2 cup crimini mushrooms (sliced)
-1/3 cup red onions (chopped)
-olive oil
-3 cloves garlic (minced)
-1/2 tsp salt, pepper, red pepper flakes, smoked paprika, tumeric, cumin
…the rest of the bowl
-2 cups kale (uncooked)
-olive oil
-1/2 cup quinoa (uncooked)
Extras (side): avocado & salsa

Directions
Sweet Potato Hash
Begin by preheating the oven to 425 degrees. Chop up you sweet potato, bell pepper, red onion, crimini mushroom, and garlic. Mix all of these together in a cooking dish with some olive oil. As far as the amount of olive oil goes, I used about a 1/4 cup. Toss all the vegetables until they are evenly coated with olive oil. Put your veggies in the oven for about 15 minutes or until the sweet potato cubes are soft.
Quinoa
Go ahead and start the quinoa, that way your veggies will be done cooking at about the same time. Follow the direction on the package and do not add any seasonings to the quinoa.
Sautéed Kale
Heat a frying pan on medium-high heat. Use about 1 Tbsp olive oil and add the 2 cups of raw kale. Sauté until the leaves are a little soft, yet still fibrous and firm- about 4-ish minutes (watch these closely, cook time is short). I don’t cook them all the way in order to preserve the nutrition. When they are done quickly remove them from the heat and add about half of the sautéed kale to a bowl.
… at this point you vegetables and quinoa may be done. Go ahead and put a few scoops of sweet potato hash and quinoa into your bowl with the kale. Begin cooking your egg and in a small bowl mix together all of your seasonings. Sprinkle some of your seasoning mixture in your bowl of hash, kale, and quinoa, then mix evenly. Once your egg is finished place it on top. I always eat this dish with avocado and salsa- enjoy!