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Creamy Pink Pasta with Shrimp & Spinach

Forgive me on the recipe name here, not my best work.  This dish was fantastic, we will definitely be making it again.  Although “creamy” may make you step away from this recipe, the “cream” is just Greek yogurt!  I fooled Mr. Applebutter once again. ;-)

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Creamy Pink Pasta with Shrimp- adapted from back to her roots

Serves: 6

12 oz whole wheat spiral noodles

1 tbsp. olive oil

4 cloves garlic, minced

1/2 tsp. crushed red pepper

1 tbsp. Italian seasoning

8 oz. mushrooms, diced

2 cups grape tomatoes, halved

4 cups fresh spinach, roughly chopped

10 oz. shrimp, peeled & deveined

1 cup marinara sauce

5 oz. plain 0% Greek yogurt

1/4 cup parmesan cheese, grated

2 oz fat free crumbled feta cheese

Salt and pepper to taste

Instructions:

  1. Cook pasta according to package directions, omitting salt and fat. Drain and set aside.
  2. In a large skillet with a lid, heat olive oil over medium-low heat. Add in garlic and red pepper flakes, cook for 2 minutes or until garlic begins to soften.
  3. Add in mushrooms and grape tomatoes. Cook for 5-10 minutes, until mushrooms soften.
  4. Turn heat up to medium-high and add in shrimp. Cook for 2-5 minutes, or until shrimp are pink and opaque. Remove from heat, add in spinach and cover skillet. Let spinach wilt for about 5 minutes.
  5. Remove lid and place skillet back over low heat. Add the pasta, Greek yogurt and marinara sauce. Stir until sauce is mixed well and all pasta and veggies are coated.   Add Italian seasoning and feta cheese.  Mix well.
  6. Heat until just warmed through. Divide into pasta bowls and serve topped with parmesan cheese.  Add salt and pepper to taste.

Note: Depending on your taste, you may need to increase or decrease the amount of “sauce” (pasta/yogurt mixture). 

Nutrition Facts (per serving): 357 calories, 7g fat (2g saturated), 45g carbohydrate (8g fiber), 26g protein

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BBQ Chicken & Grilled Pineapple Quesadillas

I found these to be perfect with a side of corn on the cob.  The smells of the dish really have me looking forward to warm summer nights!  Looks like we’re in for it, as the next few days are supposed to be in the high 80’s.  I swear this has been the strangest May I’ve ever experienced.  We’ve had some 90 degree days and then some in the 40’s!  Hopefully June will be a little more predictable.  As always, look out for a lower sodium BBQ sauce that isn’t super high in sugar.  The best compromise I’ve found at Wegmans is the Dinosaur brand.

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BBQ Chicken & Grilled Pineapple Quesadillas- adapted from Closet Cooking

Serves: 6

6 8-inch flour tortillas

3 boneless, skinless chicken breasts, shredded

1/2 cup 2% colby jack cheese

1/2 cup 2% sharp cheddar

1/2 cup + 2 tbsp low-sodium barbeque sauce

2 jalapenos, seeded and diced

1/4 pineapple, thinly sliced (equal to about 1.5 cups)

Instructions:

  1. Rinse and trim chicken breasts.  Cook in slow-cooker with 1/3 cup water for 7-8 hours on LOW setting.
  2. Preheat grill (I used my Cuisinart Griddler since it was a rainy day) to a medium setting.  Once hot, grill sliced pineapple for a few minutes until you see grill marks.  Set aside.
  3. Once chicken is cooked, shred and mix with the bbq sauce in a medium sized bowl.
  4. Place equal amounts of chicken mixture, jalapenos, pineapple, and both cheese’s on one half of each of the 6 tortillas.  Fold over and grill on medium heat for 3-4 minutes per side.
  5. Use a pizza cutter to cut each tortilla into 3 wedges.  One serving is one tortilla, or 3 wedges.

Serving Size (per serving): 300 calories, 7g fat (2g saturated), 32g carbohydrate, 26g protein

Baked Quinoa and Chicken Parmesan

I was so excited to find this one because I know when it comes time to counsel gluten-free patients, it’s going to a be a bit of a challenge.  So much of my diet is focused around wheat products for their rich nutrients, that I don’t really explore the gluten-free world.  This recipe is a great spin on the classic that saves you some carbohydrate in place of extra protein.  I just hope my Italian grandfather isn’t looking down from heaven ashamed of me for leaving out the pasta!  This recipe is gluten free as long as you do not include the whole wheat breadcrumbs.

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Although the above picture looks like a lot of cheese, it’s really only 1 cup total which is a reasonable portion divided by the six servings.  It always gives me a good laugh when I see pins on pinterest that consist of a meal loaded with cheese with a few vegetables scattered underneath and the pin claims a “healthy meal.”  Please be cautious when you see this!  A meal with an abundant amount of cheese is a red flag to a false claim.

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Baked Quinoa & Chicken Parmesan– very slightly adapted from Prevention RD

Serves: 6

1 tbsp. olive oil

1 medium white onion, chopped

4 cloves garlic, minced

2 tbsp. balsamic vinegar

1 (14.5 oz) can low sodium tomato sauce

1 (14.5 oz) can no-salt-added diced tomatoes

1/4 tsp. crushed red pepper flakes

2 tsp. dried basil

2 tsp. dried oregano

2 tsp. dried Italian seasoning

Black pepper to taste

1 cup quinoa, rinsed

1.5 cups water

1 lb boneless, skinless chicken breasts

1 cup reduced fat (2%) mozzarella cheese, shredded and divided

1 oz parmesan cheese, shredded

3 tbsp. whole wheat breadcrumbs

Instructions:

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Clean and trim chicken, place on aluminum foil lined cookie sheet and sprinkle with salt and pepper.  Bake at 350 degrees for 25-30 minutes until cooked through.  Set aside.
  3. Increase oven heat to 375 degrees.  Spray a 13 x 9 baking dish with cooking spray and set aside.
  4. Place rinsed quinoa and 1.5 cups water in a medium pot.  Cover and bring pot to a boil.  Once boiling, reduce the heat and simmer until cooked, about 15 minutes or as per package directions.
  5. To make the sauce, heat a large skillet over medium heat and add the olive oil.  Stir in the onion and cook until tender, about 6 minutes.  Add the garlic and cook until fragrant, about 1 minute.  Add the balsamic vinegar, scraping off the bottom of the pan and cook 2-3 minutes until liquid is almost fully absorbed.  Add the tomato sauce, diced tomatoes, crushed red pepper, basil, oregano, Italian seasoning and black pepper to taste.  Bring to a low boil and simmer until rest of the meal is prepared.
  6. Once chicken and quinoa have finished cooking, add to sauce pan (turn heat off) and mix thoroughly.  Place half of the mixture in the baking dish and top with 1/2 cup mozzarella cheese.  Add other half of mixture and top with remaining 1/2 cup cheese, 1 oz parmesan, and 3 tbsp. whole wheat breadcrumbs.
  7. Cover with foil and bake for 15 minutes.  Remove foil and continue to bake for 10 more minutes.

Nutrition Facts (per serving): 336 calories, 9.5g fat, 32g carbohydrate (5g fiber), 30g protein

Sweet Potato Quinoa Salad

I love quinoa salads because they are so easy and friendly for those who eat gluten free.  This one is probably best served at room temperature, so you also don’t have to worry about keeping it hot while the rest of your food cooks.  Feel free to alter the nuts or exchange the raisins for cranberries or whatever you happen to like best!

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Sweet Potato Quinoa Salad

Serves: 6

1 large sweet potato, peeled and cubed

1 tbsp. olive oil

1/4 tsp. salt

1/4 tsp. pepper

1/3 cup walnuts, chopped & toasted

1/3 cup golden raisins

1 cup quinoa, rinsed and cooked

1.5 cups low-sodium vegetable broth

1/4 cup fresh parsley, chopped

Dressing:

1/4 tsp. garlic powder
1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. pepper
1/2 tsp. ground ginger
3 tbsp. apple cider vinegar
5 tbsp. extra virgin olive oil

Instructions:

  1. Preheat oven to 400 F.
  2. Place cubed and peeled sweet potato on a cookie sheet.  Drizzle with 1 tbsp. olive oil and season with salt and pepper.  Bake for 25 minutes, stirring occasionally.  Once cooked, remove from the oven, allow to cool and set aside.
  3. Using the same cookie sheet used to cook the sweet potato, place chopped walnuts into the oven for about 6 minutes until toasted.
  4. Cook quinoa according to package directions in vegetable broth.  Once cooked, cool and set aside.
  5. Mix all ingredients for the dressing and set aside.
  6. Combine sweet potato, toasted walnuts, golden raisins, fresh parsley, and quinoa in a medium sized bowl.  Coat with dressing and mix well.

Nutrition Facts (per side serving): 330 calories, 19g fat (2g saturated fat), 34g carbohydrate (5g fiber), 6g protein

English Muffin Tuna Burgers

These were quick and easy for a weeknight dinner.  I tend to shy away from any kind of “cake” or “patty” recipe because they never seem to form right, if at all.  This idea attracted me because I am a sucker for English muffins.  Just love them! I was happy to see that the tuna patty did in fact make a solid crispy burger, and it tasted good too.  Enjoy your omega 3’s! :)

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English Muffin Tuna Burgers

Serves: 4

2- 6 oz cans tuna fish in water, drained

1/2 cup panko breadcrumbs

1/4 cup finely chopped green onions

2 tbsp. fresh parsley, minced

1 tsp. Italian seasoning, dried

2 cloves garlic, finely minced

Pinch of salt & pepper

juice of 1/2 lemon

3 tbsp. + 4 tbsp. plain Greek yogurt, divided

1 egg

4 whole wheat English muffins, toasted

4 leaves romaine lettuce

8 tomato slices, 1/4″ thick

Instructions:

  1. Preheat oven to 400 F
  2. Combine tuna, panko, green onion, garlic, salt, pepper, lemon, 3 tbsp. Greek yogurt, and egg.  Mix well with you hands.
  3. Form into 4 equal patties (they will be wet- it’s ok).  Place on greased baking sheet and bake for 20 minutes.
  4. Meanwhile toast English muffins.  Once patties are done, place each on English muffin and top with 2 slices tomato, lettuce, and 1tbsp. Greek yogurt.  Serve with suggested side of homemade sweet potato fries and veggies of your choice.

Nutrition Facts (per serving): 276 calories, 3.7g fat (.9g saturated), 36g carbohydrate (5g fiber), 28g protein

Crock Pot Rice & Bean Burritos

I am happy to announce that my clinical rotations are officially over. With only a few projects and site rotations to go in the next four weeks, I feel like I finally have my life back! Graduation and taking the RD exam is just around the corner. I am slowly going to get back into my old Monday/Thursday posting schedule, and I’m so excited to start experimenting in the kitchen again. Let me tell you, it was a long couple of months of staple recipes and leftovers, and I. Am. Bored.

This one was so so easy and tasty. Rice and beans provide what we call a “complimentary protein source.” What this means is that together the two provide all of the amino acids required to make a complete vegetarian protein source, equivalent to a meat source. It’s also a crock pot recipe which is great for nights that you just need a break. Enjoy and thank you for still reading!

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Crock Pot Rice & Bean Burritos
Serves: 6 (2 tortillas each)

1 cup brown rice
1 14.5oz can no-salt added black beans
1 14.5oz can no-salt added pinto beans
1 14.5oz can no-salt added diced tomatoes
1 tbsp. extra virgin olive oil
1 tbsp. dried Italian seasoning
1/2 tbsp. onion powder
1 tbsp. chili powder
Water (see instructions)
1/2 red onion, diced
1 avocado, diced
6 oz plain non-fat Greek yogurt
6 oz salsa
12 6-inch flour tortillas

Instructions:

1) Rinse and drain pinto and black beans
2) Drain diced tomatoes with the remaining tomato juice draining into a 2 cup measuring cup. Fill measuring cup with water to reach the 2 cup line.
3) Place 1 tbsp. olive oil in bottom of crock pot, pour in rice and mix into oil. Next add beans, tomatoes, tomato juice/water mixture, and all seasonings. Heat on LOW 5-6 hours.
4) When crock pot is finished, divide bean mixture evenly between 10-12 tortillas. Add even amounts of diced red onion, avocado, Greek yogurt and salsa to each burrito. Roll up and enjoy!

Nutrition Facts (per serving): 470 calories, 11g fat (8g unsaturated), 75g carbohydrate (13g dietary fiber), 19g protein

Sun-Dried Tomato Turkey Meatballs

Almost one month since my last post, yikes! The dietetic internship has been very busy to say the least. I really miss the part of my life where I had free time to experiment with cooking. I’m going to work harder this month to show my face here, so to speak.  Due to working seven days last week, I had to relinquish control of grocery shopping to Mr. Applebutter.  All sorts of full fat cheeses and ice cream made their way into my house, but so did some organic veggies and free-range beef. I was proud!

Enjoy this easy spin on the classic spaghetti and meatballs.

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Sun-Dried Tomato Turkey Meatballs
Serves: 3 (3 meatballs per serving)

1/4 cup whole wheat low-sodium seasoned breadcrumbs
9 large drained, rinsed and chopped Sun-Dried Tomatoes (in oil)
2 tsp dried parsley
2 cloves garlic, minced
3 tbsp. reduced fat Parmesan cheese, grated
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 egg, beaten
1 tablespoon skim milk
3/4 pound 97% lean ground turkey

Instructions:

1) Preheat oven to 350˚F.

2) Combine breadcrumbs with tomatoes, parsley, garlic, Parmesan and salt in a large bowl. Mix with beaten egg and milk to incorporate. Add ground turkey to the mixture and combine by hand.

3) Form into 9 medium-sized balls and arrange on a large baking sheet. Bake for about 25 minutes, or until cooked through. Be sure to turn halfway through cook time.

4) Remove from heat and serve with your favorite sauce and whole wheat pasta.

Nutrition Facts (per serving): 214 calories, 6g fat, 10g carbohydrate (1.5g fiber), 30g protein