Healthy, Quick Goat Cheese Marinara

Here’s a quick, simple dish that’s light and refreshing.

Ingredients:
1 jar marinara (I like the Trader Joe’s organic tomato basil marinara)
Goat cheese (I think the pasteurized one at TJ’s is about 8 oz and I use the whole package)
Fresh veggies (broccoli, cauliflower, baby carrots)

Directions:

Step 1: Preheat oven to 350F.

Step 2: Pour marinara in an oven safe casserole dish. Cut up the goat cheese in chunks and spread on top.

Step 3: Bake for 15-20 min just as goat cheese begins to golden.

Step 4: Let cool for 5 or so minutes and serve with fresh veggies! You can either dip the veggies in the dish, or I microwave a plate of veggies, covering them with a damp paper towel, for 2-4 minutes depending on how soft you like your steamed veggies.

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Butternut Squash Macaroni & Cheese

This is a really great pasta dish perfect for sneaking veggie servings in a delicious way!

Ingredients:

1 lb brown rice macaroni noodles
2 tbsp earth balance buttery spread
1 tbsp whole wheat flour
2 cups skim milk or almond milk (I used vanilla almond milk and I feel like it made it creamier without adding extra calories)
2 cups puréed butternut squash
1 cup shredded cheddar cheese
1 cup shredded Swiss & gruyere cheese
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp pepper

*Alter any of these proportions as need be!! I might add more almond milk to my next batch.

**The butternut purée can be store bought or made my puncturing vent holes in a butternut squash and microwaving for 12-15 min, rotating the squash every 3 min. Once the squash feels soft, cut in half, discard the seeds, and scoop up the inside which should be soft and easy to mash.

Step 1: Boil water and add brown rice pasta. Cook until soft.

Step 2: Melt butter in a saucepan, then add flour slowly while whisking until smooth.

Step 3: Add milk, purée, and cheeses individually and slowly while whisking.

Step 4: Combine sauce mixture and strained brown rice noodles in one big pot. Mix together and serve OR if making this the night before, spread the pasta into a deep baking dish. Spread any left over shredded cheese over the top. When ready, bake the dish at 375F for about 10-15 min just to warm it up and melt the cheese.20130930-104341.jpg

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Idyllwild, CA

My husband and I spent a couple days in Idyllwild, CA, for our anniversary this year. It was fun! We took the dog, hung out in peaceful nature, and had a little anniversary picnic.

If you’re trying for a healthy weekend getaway and are in the area, Idyllwild is the place to go. Other than hiking there’s a couple lakes close by for fishing and boating (Lake Hemet and I can’t remember the other one). Also I must say this town has many options for healthy and organic meals.

Just don’t stay at Strawberry Creek Inn!! Haha I received horrible customer service from the owner himself. There are other fun cabins and inns that we will try out next time. 🙂

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Spaghetti Squash Casserole

Here’s a quick, easy dinner recipe OR I made this on a Sunday and packed it or lunch the rest of the week.

Ingredients:
1 spaghetti squash
1 bottle of spaghetti squash (I used Italian vodka sauce)
1/4 bar of light cream cheese (I think that’s 2 oz.)
Part skim shredded mozzarella cheese
Shredded Parmesan cheese
4 oz brown rice macaroni pasta (optional)

Directions:
Step 1.) Preheat oven to 350F. Pierce the spaghetti squash several times for venting purposes. Microwave for about 12 minutes, rotating the squash every 3 minutes. Let cool for 5 minutes or so.

Step 2.) You may have to use oven mitts to handle the squash, but cut it in half lengthwise. Scoop out the seeds, then scrape out the squash with a fork so that it looks like noodles. Place “noodles” in a large mixing bowl.

Step 3.) In the large mixing bowl, stir the cream cheese with the “noodles.” Then stir in the sauce and a little shredded mozzarella and parm (amount of cheese is your preference).

Step 4.) Spray olive oil in a deep baking dish. Pour the “noodle”/sauce/cheese mixture into the dish. Optionally top with brown rice macaroni noodles and press them into the casserole making sure they’re at least partially covered by the sauce. Bake for 15 minutes.

Step 5.) Top casserole with shredded mozzarella and parm. Pop back in the oven for 5-10 more minutes.

Enjoy!

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Banana Blueberry Pancakes

Healthy, yummy banana blueberry pancakes! I tried to save some of these on a Sunday morning for my work lunch on Monday BUT my husband ate them all.

Ingredients:
1 banana (2 bananas if they’re small)
2 eggs (I use one whole egg and one egg white)
1 tbsp whole grain bisquick (or flax seed might work but haven’t tried it yet)
Dash of almond milk

Directions:
1.) Mash bananas and egg/egg white until batter consistency.

2.) Add whole grain bisquick and a dash of almond milk and whisk away!

3.) Add blueberries (or any other fruit) to the mixture.

4.) Pour batter on an olive-oil-sprayed pan. Fry one side about 2-4 min on low-med heat. Flip and repeat.

Yields about 12 small to medium size pancakes.

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Healthy Cheesecake

I LOVE making this pie. I’ve made it 3 times and am still trying to perfect it. I originally found it on Pinterest and tweaked it a bit.

Ingredients:
8 graham cracker bars (I like using the low fat cinnamon ones)
1 banana (use 2 if the bananas are small)
Agave
Olive oil or cooking oil spray
12 oz vanilla Greek yogurt
1/2 bar of light cream cheese (I think that’s 4 oz)
2 cups light whipped cream (from a tub not the can!)
Strawberries
Blueberries

Directions

Step 1: Preheat oven to 350F. Crumble the graham crackers by hand or with the bottom of a glass cup.

Step 2: Add banana and mash into the graham cracker crumbs until a doughy consistency.

Step 3: Spray a pie dish with the olive or cooking oil and spread the graham/banana dough onto the dish and up the sides to make a crust. Sometimes this mixture gets a little sticky so I sprinkle the top of the dough with a little whole wheat flour so you can spread it around without the dough sticking to your fingers.

Step 4: Drizzle agave sweetener onto the pie crust. I like using Trader Joe’s organic agave. Bake the crust for 10-15 minutes until it’s a little browned. Remove from oven to cool.

Step 5: While the crust is cooling, mix the Greek yogurt, light whip cream, and light cream cheese. Whip until the same consistency. I always seem to add a little more of the cream cheese. Just a little bit more if needed. I think it makes the filling more solid and less runny. Once whipped, place the filling to set in the fridge for about 10-15 minutes.

Step 6: Add cream filling to pie crust. Top with sliced blueberries and strawberries. Set in fridge to set for 20 minutes, and you’re good to go!

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Juice Cleanse Cont.

I’ve been lagging writing my juice cleanse results, but don’t worry the effects are still fresh in my mind.

I started out the day with a juice and water. I felt alright; after all it was only the morning so my body was still getting going. By mid morning, I started to feel a little “high” and light headed. I almost felt a little stupid, too. Must be all those toxins being flushed out of my body, I thought.

Every two hours I loyally chugged a Tropical Heat, Vitality Splash, or Blue Green Goddess along with 12 oz of water. The MOST annoying thing throughout the day was having to pee every 1-2 hours. I had to plan to be next to a restroom at all times. That made going to the beach that day quite interesting.

Honestly I felt decent all day, not too hungry. All that liquid gave me a full feeling. And the last drink of the day, Chai Coconut Bliss, was my favorite. Pretty delicious.

Then……it hit me. At 9pm I had the worst headache and the worst nausea. I seriously wanted to die. It was worse than a hangover. I laid there in bed praying to just fall asleep. But every little noise, the dog breathing, my husband clumsily flipping through a magazine, triggered sharp pangs throughout my head, neck, and stomach. “Can you read a magazine ANY MORE ANNOYINGLY??!” Probably not my most pleasant pillow talk.

By 10:30pm, I just couldn’t take it. I headed straight to the kitchen in the dark, avoiding bright lights, and dug into a small cold plate of the whole wheat Greek Alfredo pasta I made a couple days before. I can’t say I felt instantaneously better, but I was finally able to eventually fall asleep. Without kicking my husband and dog to the couch.

I did a little research on this juice cleanse debate (probably should have done this beforehand but I guess it was a learning experience?). Generalizing from a couple articles, supposedly the “high” stupor feeling is from your body not having anything else to process besides sugars. Also, since the pre-made drinks are less than 500 calories total, your body can go into starvation mode which can mess with your metabolism. My headache and nausea, I read, are results of a sugar crash and starvation.

My conclusion is that something supposedly good for you, cleansing your body of toxins, shouldn’t make you feel like a big pile o sh*t. I feel much better clean eating and having an intense work-out sesh. Do what your body feels is right. Pre-made juice cleansing is not right for me. To each his own!