Stuffed Acorn Squash with Mushroom Lentil Stuffing (GLUTEN AND DAIRY FREE)

 

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Stuffed Acorn Squash

2 Tbsp. coconut oil

1 medium yellow onion, chopped

6 stalks celery, finely chopped

2 carrots, diced

1 cup mushrooms, chopped

1 tsp. sage (more if using fresh)

1 tsp. thyme (more if using fresh)

2 large acorn squash

 2 cups cooked lentils (this can be made without the lentils but then I double mushrooms)

1/4-1/2 cup apple sweetened (or low sugar) dried cranberries

Salt and pepper to taste

If using the squash, pre-heat oven to 350 degrees.  Cut acorn squash in half.  Fill a roasting pan with 1 inch of water, and place squash flesh-side down.  Roast 45 minutes to an hour, or until very soft.  Scrape out seeds and discard. To make the stuffing, Sauté onion, celery, carrots, mushrooms, sage, and thyme.  Add the cooked lentils and heat through.  Remove from heat.  Stir in salt and pepper, dried cranberries, mixing to combine.  Divide the stuffing evenly among the acorn squash halves or serve family style in a bowl.

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A great healthy Thanksgiving side that will please everyone at your table. This is so flavorful and delicious, you never will miss the bread! Great stuffed in the acorn squash, served family style in a bowl, or top a sweet potato with it. 

Fall Roasted Veggies

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Roasted Root Vegetables

4-6 servings

Ingredients
1 sweet potato and or squash
2 parsnips
2 carrots
2 turnips or 1 large rutabaga
1 daikon radish
Beets
olive oil
salt and pepper
herbs: rosemary, thyme or sage (fresh if possible)

Directions
1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
2. Wash and chop all vegetables into large bite-sized pieces.
3. Place in a large baking dish with sides.
4. Drizzle with olive oil; mix well to coat each vegetable lightly.
5. Sprinkle with salt, pepper and herbs.
6. Bake uncovered for 25-35 minutes until vegetables are tender and golden brown, checking every 10 minutes to stir and make sure veggies are not sticking.

Note: Any combination of vegetables will work. Roasting only one kind of vegetable also makes a nice side dish.

Variation: For a sweet vs. savory variation use cinnamon instead of herbs.

I love topping a fresh green salad with roasted veggies in the Fall for more of a comfort and warm feel.

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Hearty Chicken and White Bean Chili for a Crowd

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HEARTY CHICKEN AND WHITE BEAN CHILI

  • 1 TBSP extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 4 cloves fresh garlic, minced
  • 64 ounces organic chicken broth (reduced sodium)
  • 1 jar salsa verde
  • 1 can (16 ounces), fire roasted tomatoes, with juice
  • 2 can mild diced green chiles
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1 teaspoon chili powder
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1 rotisserie chicken, skin removed, off the bone, and shredded
  • 3 cans organic white beans, rinsed and drained (I like the simply balanced organic boxed ones from Target)
  • 1 bag organic frozen corn
  • 1/4 cup chopped cilantro
  • Sea salt or Himilayan Pink Salt
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • *optional (crushed red pepper flakes, cayenne, or hot sauce)

DIRECTIONS
Heat the oil in a large soup kettle. Sauté the onion and garlic until tender over medium heat.. Add the broth, salsa verde, tomatoes and juice, chiles, and spices. Bring to a boil, then reduce the heat and simmer for at least 15 minutes. Add the shredded chicken, beans, and corn. Simmer for 15 minutes or longer. Season with salt, pepper and optional spices.

*This makes a really big batch so feel free to cut in half. I like to make extra to eat during the week and to have a few servings to freeze.

Top with toppings of your choice:

  • crushed tortillas
  • greek yogurt (squeeze lime and fresh cilantro in for a tasty greek yogurt topping)
  • shredded cheese
  • avocados
  • tomatoes
  • scallions
  • red onion
  • cilantro
  • olives
  • fresh lime wedges
  • jalapeños, seeded and chopped

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So filling, healthy, and DELISH!

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Citrus Dill Dressing

“If you keep good foods at home, you will eat good foods”

I had a bunch of produce that I wanted to use up from the farmers market so I threw together this salad with what I had.  Just get creative with the ingredients you have and make something fabulous! 

Citrus Dill

Today I chopped up 4 baby cucumbers, 2 tomatoes, 3 little peppers, kalamata olives, and spiralized zucchini to make a “unpasta” salad. Tossed it with this dressing. You could add any veggies you have. I think red onion, feta, and avocado would have been great additions as well. You could use brown rice or black bean pasta to replace the spiraled zucchini too. This dressing is great on any pasta salad, fish, green salad, and especially cucumbers.   Pick a few ingredients to always have on hand so you can create and find the flavors you like together. Make eating real food easy for you.

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I want to know what real food you are eating today! Share on my Facebook page or comment here www.leanbydrea.com/facebook.

 

Chopped Broccoli, Kale, and Carrot Salad

I feel like I hit the jackpot at our local farmers market the other day. So much fun, I am like a kid in a candy store.  But buying all of this fresh produce means getting back in the kitchen and creating.

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I decided to make a salad spin off of my massaged kale salad.  It is one of my favorites so I replaced the green apple with broccoli and carrots. The results were crunchy, sweet, salty, and delish!

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Chopped Broccoli, Kale, And Carrot Salad

  • 1 head broccoli, chopped
  • 3 fresh carrots, chopped or shredded
  • 1 bunch kale, stripped off stem, torn, and massaged with himalayan pink salt
  • 2 TBSP Apple Cider Vinegar
  • 2 TBSP Extra Virgin Olive Oil
  • 1-2 tsp raw organic honey
  • 1 tsp himalayan pink salt
  • 1/4 cup pumpkin seeds
  • 1/4 cup fruit sweetened organic dried cranberries

Remove broccoli from stem and pulse in vitamix or food processor. Pulse carrots in Vitamix, food processor, or box shredder.  Strip kale off of stem and tear into small pieces. Massage with the pink salt for about a minute to break it down. Mix the oil, vinegar,and honey. Toss the broccoli, kale, and carrots with the dressing. Top with organic dried cranberries and raw pumpkin seeds.

(when I cook, I just use what I have so rarely measure. Use the amounts of broccoli, carrots, and kale that you want or have and adjust dressing accordingly. I used my vitamix to pulse the broccoli and carrots. I put on Variable 4 and pulsed a couple times.)

IMG_7295Then for dessert, I whipped chilled coconut cream in the vitamix with vanilla, cinnamon, and honey. I topped the fresh raspberries with the delicious whipped coconut cream. Yum!!

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4 Tasty Watermelon Recipes

This Month’s Superfood: Watermelon!

Watermelon is one of my favorite summer fruits because it hydrates, packs some powerful nutrients AND detoxifies our bodies! What makes watermelon a Superfood?

• It’s rich in vitamins A and C

• Provides an excellent source of beta-carotene and lycopene. Lycopene is what gives watermelon its deep red coloring; but the nutrient is also well-known as a cancer-fighting agent. It helps keep cell membranes strong, which in turn helps keep toxins from entering cells.

• Safeguards our eyes/vision. Watermelon contains lutein and zeaxanthin, potent antioxidants that are found naturally in our eyes. Researchers believe that the combination of these two antioxidants protects against several types of ultraviolet rays and many age-related eye diseases, including cataracts.

• Protects against a variety of cancers, including breast, prostate, colon, and lung, among others.

• Reduces inflammation and water retention; is a natural anti-depressant; boosts the immune system, and aids in weight loss.

• But wait, there’s more! You can even use the rind and the black seeds in your juicing! The rind is an excellent source of chlorophyll and the seeds are known to help relax the body, lower blood pressure and provide immune-boosting zinc and iron! (Make sure you rinse the rind very well before using.) This is truly a holistic, healing fruit!

That’s just about everything you ever wanted to know about watermelons … except: how do you determine from the outside how to pick out a watermelon that’s sweet and ripe on the inside? It’s easy if you know what to look for!

• First, choose a watermelon that feels heavy for its size. The water content of the melon increases as it ripens, and water adds weight.

• Next, examine the rind carefully, both top and bottom. The rind should be smooth and the top should be sort of dull compared to the rest of the rind. The bottom, which is where the watermelon rested on the ground as it was growing, should be a creamy yellow. If it is white or green, it’s probably not ripe yet.

• You can thump the watermelon if you like, but not everyone agrees that this helps determine ripeness. Those who do thump say to listen for a deep, hollow, bass sound rather than a shallow, higher sound.

Watermelon & Feta Salad with Serrano Chile Vinaigrette

watermelon_salad

 

From Athens, Georgia chef, Hugh Acheson

Serves 6

Ingredients
½ to 1 cup olive oil
2 Tbsp fresh lime juice
2 Tbsp champagne vinegar
2 tsp chopped fresh thyme
1 small shallot, minced
1 Serrano chili pepper, stemmed and sliced or chopped
Salt to taste
1 small seedless watermelon
1/3 lb block of feta cheese, sliced into 1/8″ slices (about 12 slices) *optional
1 bunch arugula, washed and drained

Directions
In a jar or salad bottle with a tight-fitting lid, combine olive oil, lime juice, champagne vinegar, thyme, shallot, and Serrano pepper. Shake well. Season dressing with salt to taste; chill in refrigerator. Meanwhile, slice watermelon into 3″ squares, about ¼-inch thick. On small salad plates, begin to assemble each serving of the salad. To assemble, place one slice of watermelon on the plate; next, layer one slice of feta on top of the first watermelon slice. Repeat, layering another watermelon slice and then one more feta slice. End with a final watermelon slice on top. Place about one handful of arugula on the plate, encircling the stacked watermelon/feta. Drizzle the stack and the arugula with the vinaigrette and garnish with a few slices of Serrano pepper. Chill for 15 minutes or serve immediately.

*For those of you who don’t eat dairy, the salad is also delicious without the feta.

Watermelon Gazpacho
From Eating Well Magazine Serves 6

watermelon_gazpacho

Ingredients

8 cups finely diced seedless watermelon, (about 6 pounds)
1 medium cucumber, peeled, seeded and finely diced
1/2 red bell pepper, finely diced
1/4 cup chopped fresh basil
1/4 cup chopped flat-leaf parsley
3 Tbsp red-wine vinegar
2 Tbsp minced shallot
2 Tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
3/4 tsp sea salt or to taste

Directions
Mix watermelon, cucumber, bell pepper, basil, parsley, vinegar, shallot, oil and salt in a large bowl. Puree 3 cups of the mixture in a blender or food processor to the desired smoothness; transfer to another large bowl. Puree another 3 cups and add to the bowl. Stir in the remaining diced mixture. Serve at room temperature or chilled.

Watermelon-Kiwi Popsicles
From Island Jane Magazine andNourishingMeals.com
Try these healthy popsicles and feel like a kid again!

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Ingredients

3 cups watermelon puree (about 1/4 to 1/2 a watermelon)
1/2 cup fresh blueberries
1/2 cup fresh strawberries, chopped
1 kiwi, peeled and sliced
1 peach or nectarine, diced small
1 handful of fresh cherries, pitted and chopped

Directions
Cut the watermelon into chunks and then puree it in a blender until smooth. Set aside. Set out a dozen popsicle molds and make sure they are sturdy (you may need additional or fewer molds, depending on their size). Fill each mold with the chopped fresh fruit. Add a slice of kiwi and a few blueberries to each mold. Then pour in the watermelon puree until each mold is full to the top. Place a popsicle stick into each filled mold. Place the molds in your freezer (again ensuring that they are sturdy) and freeze for 6 to 8 hours. To release popsicle, run the mold under warm water for a few seconds and pull each one out.

Watermelon Refresher

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Ingredients

1 cup watermelon, cut into 1-inch cubes
1 peeled and sliced cucumber
5 mint leaves
½ cup ice

Directions
Mix all ingredients in a high-powered blender (such as a Vitamix ). Blend on low 30 seconds, then on high until smooth, about 30 seconds more. Pour into individual glasses and garnish each glass with a mint leaf. Serve cold.

 

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Marinated Grilled Chicken Salad with Strawberry Bruschetta Topping

I saw this bruschetta recipe on Balanced Bites today, and I knew I had to try it. I decided to sweeten it up a bit with some raw organic honey and soak my onions prior otherwise left the recipe as is. My mint and basil is growing so plentiful so what a wonderful way to use some of it up. I also had spinach from the Alexandria farmers market, chicken tenders thawed, and strawberries that were dying to be eaten so this recipe was calling my name! I use this marinade often and thought it would pair nicely with the strawberry bruschetta and boy was I right.

Strawberry

PREP

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You could use it as a salsa for pita chips too.

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So pretty!

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Marinate the chicken

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Grill Chicken tenders

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Set up build your own salad stations

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Or use the chicken in a lettuce wrap with the bruschetta. This spinach is huge and I got it at the Alexandria Farmers Market from Sundog Prairie Farms 

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Finished product and absolutely DELISH!

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Strawberry Bruschetta (slightly adapted from Balanced Bites)

  • 1 pound strawberries, diced
  • 1/2 cup diced sweet onion (soak in cold water if you want them not so strong)
  • 5 large basil leaves, finely
  • 24 mint leaves, finely chopped
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 Tbsp aged balsamic vinegar
  • 1 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • sea salt, to taste
  • 1 Tbsp raw honey

Soak the chopped onions in cold water while you are marinating the chicken, drain.  It takes the sharpness out of the raw onions. Add the strawberries, onion, basil, mint and garlic in a medium bowl until well combined. Whisk the EVOO, Balsamic, honey,  and sea salt until combined. Fold in the dressing with the strawberry mixture.

I make this marinade often and love it. I always have these ingredients on hand so it is quick to throw together. Skip the store boughten marinades, too many ingredients.

Marinated Grilled Chicken Tenders 

  • 1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
  • 1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
  • 1/4 teaspoon sea salt, to taste
  • 1 clove garlic, crushed (optional)
  • 1 teaspoon raw honey
  • chicken tenders, boneless & skinless  (about 2 per person)

Mix well and toss chicken tenders in marinade. Refrigerate for at least 30 minutes. Grill Chicken tenders about 2-3 minutes per side over medium high heat or until done.  Serve on top of bed of organic baby spinach and top with  strawberry bruschetta.

Best part about this was my sister came over and enjoyed it with my on our deck. Gorgeous day for a picnic lunch break. Love having taste testers!

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I was able to make all of this without going to the store. If you keep good foods at your house, you will eat good foods! Always change recipes to suit your tastes, budget, food sensitivities, diet, and get creative. Play in the kitchen and make it fun feeding your family healthy foods that taste delicious. Thanks for the bruschetta recipe Balanced Bites, it will become a staple.

paleo, gluten free, dairy free, and AMAZING!

Bok Choy Summer Slaw

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I fell in love with Bok Choy last summer and have been using it ever since.   I found some beautiful Bok choy at the Farmers market so I wanted to experiment with a few new ways to prepare it. It is a Chinese cabbage that is great in stir-fry, roasted, and in salads. Today I made a light and tasty summer slaw with it and it turned out fantastic.  

Bok choy is very low in calories, only 13 calories per 100 grams.  It is very rich source of many vital phyto-nutrients, vitamins, minerals and health-benefiting anti-oxidants. What is your favorite way to prepare? Answer in the comments below.

Bok Choy Summer Slaw

  • 1/4 cup rice vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon toasted sesame oil
  • 2 teaspoons raw organic honey
  • 2 teaspoons organic Dijon mustard
  • 1/4 teaspoon himilayan pink salt
  • 6 cups very thinly sliced bok choy, trimmed (I am using the bok greens for a later recipe)
  • 2 medium carrots, shredded
  • 3 scallions, thinly sliced
  •  1 yellow bell pepper or 3 little ones, thinly sliced
  • 1/4 cup fresh cilantro, chopped
  • toasted sesame seeds

Whisk vinegar, oil, honey, mustard and salt in a large bowl. Add bok choy, carrots, peppers, and scallions; toss to coat with the dressing. Top with cilantro and sesame seeds. 

I think this would be fabulous with thinly sliced chicken breasts and slivered almonds mixed in too. 

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Chia Seeds, benefits and recipes

Chia seeds

The Chia seed is an ancient SuperFood used by Aztec and Mayan warriors to increase their energy and stamina, way back in 3500 B.C. Chia is the highest plant-based source of Omega-3s, fiber and protein. Many health experts agree that these tiny seeds are the next big thing in nutrition. In addition to protein and Omega-3s, they are packed with protein, healthy oils, fiber, disease-fighting minerals, enzymes and antioxidants. The Chia seed also has three times more calcium than milk, for an excellent non-dairy source of this bone-building nutrient.

Chia seeds can be added to just about any recipe, providing extra nutrition without changing the taste or texture. When you add chia seeds to liquid, they form a gel and absorb ten times their weight in water, making it an excellent source of hydration. The seeds take on the flavors of whatever food you mix it with.

I try to eat Chia seeds every day, mixing a tablespoon or two into oatmeal, smoothies and soups, or sprinkling it on top of salads.

This month’s SuperFood at a glance; Chia seeds are:

• A complete protein with all of the essential amino acids intact. This is a great protein source!

• A super source of Omega 3 fatty acids (the same Omega-3s that we get from fish oil and flax.) Omega 3 fatty acids are well-known for controlling inflammation in your system.

• High in fiber, which helps pull toxins from the digestive system. Fiber also keeps things “moving” and makes you feel fuller, longer.

• Rich in antioxidants (more than blueberries!) which protect your cells and tissues and keep you looking and feeling YOUNG!

• A source of sustained energy and known to help relieve inflammation in the body.

• Research shows that the concentrated amount of antioxidants and Omega-3s in Chia seeds may help improve brain clarity, concentration and memory.

Drea’s Recipe Corner
Banana Nut Loaf
Makes one loafbanana_bread

Ingredients
5 large over-ripe bananas
1 cup almonds
2 cups pecans
1 cup of buckwheat or brown rice flour
1/2 cup of maple syrup
3 Tbsp chia seeds
2 Tbsp cinnamon

Directions
Start by pre-heating the oven to 300 degrees . Then blend the almonds and pecans in a food processor so that they form a flour-like consistency; this should take about 30 seconds. Once the mixture is smooth, add it to a mixing bowl with the buckwheat flour, maple syrup, chia seeds, and cinnamon, mixing them all together. Next, mash the bananas together util smooth before stirring them into the flour/nut mixture; at this point the mixture should be nice and sticky. Grease a loaf tin with coconut oil and then pour in the mix and allow it to bake for about an hour. Slice and store in snack-size freezer bags for the perfect travel treat! They will defrost naturally in your carry-on or backpack!

Dirt Balls
From Dr. Mark Hyman’s, The Blood Sugar Solution Cookbook

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Makes12

Ingredients
1 cup raw cashews
1 cup rolled oats
1/4 cup chia seeds
2 tsp ground cinnamon
1 cup dates
1/4 cup cacao powder
1 Tbsp coconut oil, melted
3 Tbsp water
1/4 cup coconut flakes

Directions
Combine the cashews and oats in the work bowl of a food processor and pulse until they are as fine as breadcrumbs. Add all remaining ingredients, except coconut, and process until it forms a large ball. Roll out 12 equal balls and pour the coconut flakes out onto a large plate. Roll each ball in the coconut until completely covered. Refrigerate for at least 30 minutes. Store leftover Dirt Balls in the refrigerator for up to 5 days.

Homemade Trail Mix Bars

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Ingredients
3 cups puffed whole-grain cereal (e.g., puffed wheat or Kashi)
1/2 cup chopped nuts or seeds (or a combination)
1/2 cup (or up to 3/4 cup) chopped dried fruit such as cranberries or blueberries (or a combination, NO added sugar)
3 Tbsp ground chia seeds
1/3 cup creamy nut or seed butter (e.g. cashew, almond – NO added sugar)
1/2 cup raw honey (OR brown rice syrup, light molasses, sorghum, or pure maple syrup)

Directions
Preheat oven to 350°F. Line a 9×9-inch square metal baking pan foil; spray with nonstick cooking spray. In a large bowl mix the cereal, nuts, dried fruit and (optional) flaxseed; set aside. Place the nut butter and honey in small heavy saucepan. Bring to boil over medium-high heat, whisking constantly for about 1 minute until bubbly and smooth. Pour hot mixture over cereal mixture in bowl, stir to blend (mix well to coat all of the cereal). Transfer mixture to prepared pan. Using a large square of wax paper or foil, firmly press mixture down into pan to firmly compact. Bake until just golden around edges, about 10 minutes. Cool completely. Remove bars using foil liner and cut into 16 bars or squares. Wrap in tin foil or plastic wrap and store in zip bags for travel. Makes 16 servings.

AVOCADO SALAD WITH LIME DRESSING

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AVOCADO SALAD WITH LIME DRESSING

  • 3 cups baby spinach
  • 6 to 8 cherry tomatoes
  •  1 medium cucumber, chopped
  •  1 avocado, diced

LIME DRESSING 

  • 2 lime, juiced
  • ¼ teaspoon ground cumin
  •  1 teaspoon raw apple cider vinegar
  • 2 teaspoons extra virgin olive oil
  • Sea salt Black pepper

Prepare the dressing. Add your lime juice, ground cumin, raw apple cider vinegar, extra virgin olive oil, sea salt, and black pepper to a small bowl. Whisk the ingredients until they come together. Set to the side. Mix the salad. Add baby spinach, cherry tomatoes, cucumber, and avocado to a bowl. Top with lime dressing and serve immediately.

Feel free to add taco meat or grilled chicken and any other veggies that you would like.  Homemade dressings are so simple to make and then you can control the ingredients.

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