Grilled chicken and green beans.

Dairy-free | Soy-free | Nut-free | Gluten-free | Clean eating | Paleo option

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Lately I’d been finding myself both in a dinner-making rut, and feeling lazy about our clean eating; I wonder if the two are related!

Then one day I found a new recipe for the most delicious-looking and easy green beans. I’m generally not too good at the vegetable side dish thing, to be honest; I try to incorporate the veggies in the dish itself and serve fresh fruit or salad on the side because I want to do as little extra cooking as possible, especially on a weeknight. But these just looked worth it. So I went looking for a good, and easy, chicken recipe to complement it. And I was blown away by the flavor! Usually you need to marinate a chicken breast for hours to get this kind of flavor and tenderness, but here you just brush on a spice rub that took literally 2 minutes to combine! Suffice it to say, this has become one of my favorite weeknight meals. I serve it with brown rice to bulk up the meal, but you can easily omit that, especially if you’re trying to eat paleo or low-carb. I start the green beans first, and as long as the chicken breasts aren’t too thick (tonight mine were), everything finishes at once.

Honey-Dijon Green Beans

Original recipe here

  •  1 lb green beans, washed and ends trimmed
  • 1-2 Tbsp grapeseed or olive oil
  • 1/2 Tbsp honey
  • 1/2 Tbsp organic Dijon mustard
  • coarse Kosher salt
  • pepper
  1. Preheat oven to 425 degrees and line a rimmed baking sheet with parchment.
  2. In a large glass bowl, whisk together oil, honey, and mustard into an emulsion until very well combined.
  3. Add the green beans and use a rubber spatula to coat them thoroughly and evenly with the mustard mixture.
  4. Spread the beans in a single layer on the baking sheet and season with salt and pepper.
  5. Roast for 7 minutes, then remove and carefully flip the beans. Return to the oven for another 6 minutes or until crisped and glazed. (Aren’t they pretty???)

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Flavorful Grilled Chicken with Spice Rub

Original recipe here

  • 2-3 chicken breasts, halved (make sure they’re less than 3/4 inch thick or they won’t cook evenly)
  • 1 tsp garlic powder
  • 1 tsp ground cumin
  • 1/2 tsp ground coriander
  • 1/2 tsp paprika
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/4 tsp black pepper
  • 1-2 Tbsp olive oil
  1. In a small bowl, combine the spices and olive oil.
  2. Preheat your grill or grill pan to medium-high heat.
  3. Brush the spice mixture onto both sides of the chicken using a silicone brush or small spatula.
  4. Grill 4-5 minutes to a side until no longer pink in the middle.
  5. Enjoy with green beans and maybe some brown rice!

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My favorite bolognese sauce.

Dairy-free | Soy-free | Nut-free | Gluten-free option | Clean eating option

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Okay, so it’s not the most beautifully lit or composed photo, but I just couldn’t wait another day for good enough light to share this. I love this sauce. I love how fresh and light, yet hearty it is. I love that I can literally get SIX MEALS out of one recipe for my family, thanks to the miracles of freezers and 25-oz Tupperware. And I really just love how it tastes!

One of my very first recipes when I started this blog was a bolognese sauce I loved at the time, but even then I could tell it was missing something. One thing it had that I didn’t want was milk added for richness. This sauce leaves the dairy out and tastes even richer for it. This is our new, current, and hopefully forevermore, favorite. I hope it becomes the same for your family.

Homemade Bolognese Sauce

Original recipe here

  • 1 Tbsp. olive oil
  • 1 large yellow onion, diced and divided
  • 5 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 lbs. lean (93-95% lean) ground beef or turkey, or a combination
  • 1 red bell pepper, seeded and coarsely chopped
  • 1 can (12 oz) tomato paste
  • 1 tsp. coarse Kosher salt
  • 1 tsp. black pepper
  • 1 Tbsp. dried oregano
  • 1 Tbsp. dried basil
  • 1 1/2 tsp. dried thyme
  • 2 cans (14 oz each) diced tomatoes
  • 2 cans (28 oz each) crushed tomatoes
  • optional: 8 oz. button or baby Bella mushrooms, chopped (I omit this)
  • 1 1/2 cups beef broth
  • 2 Tbsp. brown sugar or coconut sugar
  • optional, if using coconut sugar: 1/2 Tbsp. honey
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 2 Tbsp. good quality Balsamic vinegar
  1. In a very large pot, heat the olive oil over medium heat. Add half of the diced onions and saute until translucent and beginning to brown, 3-4 minutes. Add garlic and continue sauteing, stirring constantly, about 1 minute or until fragrant.
  2. Move the onion mixture to the sides of the pot and add beef and/or turkey. Brown the meat, breaking into small pieces – you may need to increase the heat slightly – and gradually stirring the onion mixture in as the meat browns. Drain excess grease.
  3. In a blender or food processor, puree the remaining onions with the red pepper. Pour the mixture into the pot and stir to incorporate.
  4. Add tomato paste, salt, pepper, oregano, basil, and thyme, and cook 1 minute, stirring to combine.
  5. Add diced and crushed tomatoes, mushrooms if using, broth, and sugar (and honey), stir to incorporate, and then add bay leaves.
  6. Bring to a boil. Reduce to low and simmer, uncovered, 1 hour, stirring occasionally.
  7. Remove from heat, stir in Balsamic vinegar, and let rest 10-15 minutes before serving. (I usually do this while I’m waiting for my pasta to cook.)
  8. Serve over whole-wheat or gluten-free pasta, with Parmesan cheese if desired.
  9. Freeze excess in portioned containers, then pull one out and thaw for an easy weeknight meal! The sauce gets better and better the longer it rests.

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Wurst und Kartoffeln (Brats and Potatoes).

Dairy-free | Soy-free | Nut-free | Clean eating option

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Meet one of our favorite meals from our time in Switzerland. It’s easy–one-pot!–it’s dairy-free, and it’s full of great flavor and memories. Over there, they have an entire aisle for varieties of Wurst (sausages), and another whole aisle for mustard, so Stateside we have to try a bit harder to get just the right stuff. Good-quality Dijon mustard, waxy European-style potatoes such as Yukon or Dutch potatoes, and sausages that are as unprocessed as possible, help a lot. Here’s what we’re using (with the addition of Publix Greenwise Dijon):

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The girls prefer the Hofmann ones because they remind them of the more hot-dog-like Wienerli, which they like with ketchup. They never really developed a taste for mustard. You can have yours with whatever you like!

Wurst und Kartoffeln

Adapted from here

  • 2-3 Tbsp high-heat oil, such as grapeseed or canola
  • 1 small to medium onion, halved and sliced
  • 2-3 cloves garlic, crushed and roughly chopped
  • 2-3 lbs waxy European-style potatoes (however much will fit in your pan)
  • 2 packages bratwurst of choice (preferably unflavored)
  • salt & pepper to taste
  1. Preheat your oven to 425F (~218C).
  2. Cut your potatoes into bite-sized pieces. I quarter the very small ones; for the larger ones, I cut them into 1/2-inch slices.
  3. In a wide shallow pot on the stove, heat the oil over medium heat. Add the onion and garlic, stirring occasionally, 3-4 minutes, until softened.
  4. Stir in the potatoes, add a little more oil if necessary, and cover for 3-4 minutes. Uncover, stir again, season with salt and pepper, and recover for another 3-4 minutes, until the potatoes have begun to soften.
  5. Place the Wurst on top of the potatoes and put in the oven. img_1546
  6. Bake 30 minutes or until potatoes are fork-tender, turning the sausages halfway through the baking time.
  7. Enjoy!

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Lean Mean Clean Turkey Chili and Cornbread.

Clean eating | Dairy-free | Soy-free | Nut-free | Gluten-free option

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You guys. This chili. It is so easy, so flavorful, and all of my girls love it! I have to compete for leftovers with my 2-year-old, so you know that’s good!

And the cornbread? We are lovers of sweet, buttery, dessert-y, there’s-nothing-good-for-you-about-this cornbread; slathered in honey, these 100% clean muffins really do check the boxes for us! I first made them when I was still eating dairy-free and they work great that way. These muffins are absolute heaven.

Florida “fall” is finally starting to peek out its head a little around here; I got to wear jeans 2 days this week! So of course I’m pulling out all the cool-weather comfort food. And this meal is comforting without the post-comfort-food bloat and blech that I so often feel. I was sick all week, and the two dinners I needed were this (albeit with storebought tortilla chips instead of the cornbread) and my Chicken and Dumpling Soup. If I can make these while half-dying of plague, you know they’re weeknight easy!

Clean Turkey Chili

Original recipe here

  • 2 tsp olive oil
  • 1 medium yellow onion, chopped
  • 1 medium red bell pepper, chopped
  • 3-4 garlic cloves, finely chopped
  • 1 to 1.5 lbs lean ground turkey (I often split half turkey, half lean ground beef because we don’t eat much red meat and we can always use the iron)
  • up to 4 Tbsp chili powder
  • 2 tsp cumin
  • 1 tsp oregano
  • 1/4 tsp cayenne pepper
  • 1/2 tsp salt (plus more to taste)
  • 1, 28-oz can diced tomatoes, undrained
  • 1 1/4 cups low-sodium chicken broth
  • 2, 15-oz cans dark red kidney beans (I always choose low sodium)
  • 1 cup frozen corn
  1. Heat oil in a large pot on medium-high heat. Add onion and red pepper and saute a few minutes, stirring frequently, until softened. Add garlic and saute and stir another couple minutes until fragrant.
  2. Push the veggies to the edges of the pan and add the meat to the middle, breaking it up to cook until no longer pink. Gradually mix it into the veggies.
  3. Stir in the spices and salt and cook 20 seconds to toast the spices.
  4. Stir in the remaining ingredients, bring to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer 30-45 minutes or until thickened and flavors come together. Taste to adjust salt and seasonings as necessary.
  5. Top with toppings like shredded cheese, sour cream, avocado, tortilla chips, etc. and serve with cornbread! This chili tastes even better the second day!

Clean Cornbread Muffins – usually makes 12-13 muffins

Original recipe here

  • 1 1/8 (1 cup plus 2 Tbsp) cup whole-wheat pastry flour (for gluten-free, use a hearty gluten-free flour of choice)
  • 7/8 cup (3/4 cup plus 2 Tbsp) cornmeal
  • 1 1/2 Tbsp baking powder
  • 3/4 tsp (plus a pinch, optional) salt*
  • 1 1/3 cups milk*
  • 6 Tbsp unsalted butter, melted and slightly cooled*
  • 2 eggs, beaten
  • 1/4 cup honey

*Dairy-free: 1/2 tsp salt, 1 1/3 cups unsweetened almond milk, 6 Tbsp soy-free buttery stick like Earth Balance Brand, melted (it’s usually salted, which is why we decrease the added salt in the recipe)

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees and spray wells of a muffin tin with soy-free cooking spray.
  2. Combine dry ingredients in a medium bowl. Add liquid ingredients and stir until just combined; do not overmix.
  3. Ladle 1/4 cupfuls into each well of the muffin tin. Bake 15-20 minutes, until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. If you want them a little more golden on top, place them under the broiler for a minute to brown slightly.
  4. Let cool in pan before carefully removing. Serve dripping with honey!

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CLEAN* Copycat Cafe Rio Pork Salad!

Clean eating | Nut-free | Gluten-free option

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This past weekend was General Conference for our Church: one of two weekends a year when our prophet and other Church leaders speak to members worldwide about how to be better Christians, better parents, better spouses, better neighbors, better people. These are times we look forward to a great deal, but it’s a lot of listening to lots of talks for small kids to process, so we’ve found small rituals that help them look forward to it too. One is the food. It’s like the Mormon Super Bowl: cinnamon rolls for breakfast, snacks during the sessions, Chick-Fil-A picnic lunch on the living room floor (the only time this is allowed), and Cafe Rio pork salads.

Cafe Rio (and its copycat/competitor Costa Vida, which we personally prefer slightly) is an institution in Utah and other areas with a high LDS population. Their pork barbacoa salads were one of my favorite foods when we lived there. In fact, when I had a medical problem requiring me to be on blood thinners for several months, my biggest concern wasn’t all the needle pokes every week to check my levels (though it was that too); it was the fact that I couldn’t have leafy greens, and that meant no Cafe Rio salads! And then we moved away and I haven’t had one in SIX YEARS.

So I started finding and making copycat recipes every General Conference. But have you seen some of those recipes? Half a bottle of Coke, a cup of brown sugar? That nasty Ranch dressing powder? Sugar in the rice, even? Even before I started eating clean it kinda grossed me out and left me feeling sluggish and dissatisfied.

So this time around I found clean* versions. I add the asterisk because the pork contains canned chipotle chilies in adobo sauce, and the dressing does contain mayonnaise, so they are not 100% clean. But they feel and taste a heck of a lot better than the other ones I’ve found. I will say that the pork by itself doesn’t taste like what I remember (go figure, since it doesn’t have Coke and brown sugar in it), but put the whole thing together and it really brings back the memories! We had the missionaries over for the Saturday afternoon session this weekend, and one of them gave me the award of “best meal so far on his mission!” So there’s your official unbiased review from a real born-and-bred Utahn.

Cafe Rio Sweet Pork

Original recipe here

  • 3 1/2 to 4 lb. pork loin roast
  • 28 oz. diced tomatoes, undrained
  • 2 chipotle chilies (from canned chipotle chilies in adobo sauce; freeze the rest for later)
  • 1 Tbsp. coarse Kosher salt
  • up to 1 Tbsp. chili powder (it was plenty of heat for us with about 2/3 Tbsp.)
  • 1 tsp. garlic powder
  • 1 tsp. cumin
  • 1/2 cup pure maple syrup
  • 1/3 cup honey (increase to 1/2 cup if you want it sweeter, but it tastes great not as sweet as the real 6,000-calorie thing)
  • 1/3 cup apple cider vinegar
  1. Trim excess fat off of the pork and cut into 2 or 3 large pieces if it’s excessively large. Place in your Crock Pot and turn it on high.
  2. Add all remaining ingredients to a blender and blend until smooth. Pour over the roast in the Crock Pot and cook 5-6 hours on high.
  3. Shred pork with 2 forks and return to slow cooker for at least 20 minutes to absorb the sauce.

Cilantro Lime Brown Rice

Adapted from here

  • 2 cups water
  • 2 cups chicken broth
  • 2 cups brown rice
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • 1/2 tsp. cumin
  • 2-4 Tbsp. lime juice, to taste
  • 1 drop lime essential oil (or 1 tsp. lime zest)
  • 1/4 cup chopped cilantro
  1. Bring water and chicken broth to boil. Add rice, salt, and cumin, cover, and reduce heat.
  2. Simmer 45 minutes, until rice is tender and the moisture is absorbed.
  3. Add juice, essential oil, and cilantro, fluff with fork, and keep covered until ready to serve.

Cafe Rio Black Beans – triples or quadruples easily for a crowd!

Original recipe here

  • 2 Tbsp. olive oil
  • 2-3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 tsp. cumin
  • 2 cans black beans, rinsed and drained
  • 1 1/3 cups tomato juice
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 2 Tbsp. chopped fresh cilantro (1 Tbsp. dried works great in a pinch, if you’re like me and make these all the time but don’t have fresh on hand all the time)
  1. Heat oil in a large pot on medium heat. Saute garlic and cumin until fragrant.
  2. Add beans, tomato juice, and salt, (dried cilantro, too, if you’re using dried instead of fresh) and simmer until heated through. I prefer to let it go for 10-20 minutes so that it thickens.
  3. Stir in fresh cilantro before serving.

Cafe Rio Tomatillo Ranch Dressing

Original recipe here

  • 3/4 cup buttermilk (make your own! Put less than a Tbsp. white vinegar in the bottom of a measuring cup and fill with milk to 3/4 cup, then let sit several minutes)
  • 3/4 cup mayo (NOT Miracle Whip. Also, you could try a “cleaner,” European-style mayonnaise, but I’m betting it won’t taste right.)
  • 2 small tomatillos, quartered
  • 1 clove garlic
  • 1 Tbsp. lime juice
  • 1/4 cup cilantro
  • 1/2 Tbsp. fresh dill (or a scant tsp. dried)
  • 2 Tbsp. fresh parsley (or a Tbsp. dried)
  • 1/2 tsp. coarse Kosher salt
  • 1/2 tsp. garlic powder
  • 1/8 tsp. ground mustard
  1. Add all ingredients to a blender and blend until smooth.

Assemble the salad:

Top a whole-grain  or gluten-free tortilla with the rice, beans, and pork. Top with romaine lettuce, and dress with dressing, Mexican or cojita cheese, pico de gallo, guacamole, tortilla strips–whatever you want to make it awesome!

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My favorite pizza.

Nut-free | Soy-free | Gluten-free option | Clean eating option

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We’re big pizza lovers in this house. Back in my semi-homemade days I had several pizza posts, but they were all boring pepperoni (or pepperoni and green peppers) pizza. Then we lived in Switzerland and spent 10 days in Italy. They don’t do pepperoni. They do salami, but trust me, it is NOT the same. So I got a little more adventurous.

In the 4 weeks between when we were told we were moving to Switzerland for 6 months and when we actually moved, I binge-watched Rick Steeves’ Europe on PBS–only the countries we were actually thinking of going to (sorry Estonia)–and learned, among many other things, the reported origin of our beloved pizza. It came from Naples in the early 18th or 19th centuries. Legend has it that the archetypal pizza, Pizza Margherita, was commissioned in 1889 to honor the visiting Queen Margherita with the three colors of the Italian flag: red tomatoes, green basil, and white mozzarella.

I ate this pizza a lot in Italy. And Switzerland. And interestingly, everyone does it differently. The Swiss just do it with tomato sauce. The Romans did a little sauce AND tomatoes. We never made it to Naples, so I don’t know if this really is the real way, but by far my favorite way of eating Pizza Margherita is this: garlic-infused olive oil (LOTS of garlic), fresh Roma tomatoes, mozzarella, Parmesan for a little bite, and lots of basil.

Publix, our local amazing grocery chain, has amazing Italian-style pizza dough for just a couple bucks, so I get two: I make one pepperoni for the girls, and my husband and I share this. And I eat the leftovers for lunch the next day.

No, this is not clean. This is not healthy. You can use whole-grain or gluten-free crust, and the veggies and part-skim mozzarella make it less terrible for you than delivery (or diGiorno! Ha!), but let’s keep this in the “sometimes food” category. With the chocolate frozen custard. Yum!

Pizza Margherita

Original recipe here

  • Pizza dough of choice
  • 1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 Tbsp minced garlic (about 3-4 cloves)
  • 3 Roma tomatoes, thinly sliced
  • 1/2 tsp Kosher salt
  • 2 cups shredded mozzarella
  • 1/2 cup shredded Parmesan
  • 10 basil leaves, chopped
  • salt and pepper, to taste
  1. Preheat oven to 400 or 425, depending on the instructions for your chosen pizza dough, with a pizza stone in the oven (optional but highly recommended).
  2. Pour olive oil into a medium bowl and add garlic and salt. Add sliced tomatoes; toss to coat, and marinate 10-15 minutes at room temperature.
  3. Roll out and toss your pizza dough to desired width and thickness on a large piece of parchment paper.
  4. Brush dough evenly with about a tablespoon of garlic oil marinade. Sprinkle evenly with 1 1/2 cups of the mozzarella and all of the Parmesan.
  5. Top with tomato slices, spaced evenly, and sprinkle basil over the tomatoes.
  6. Sprinkle remaining mozzarella evenly over the top of the basil and season all over with salt and pepper.
  7. Bake 15-20 minutes, until crust is golden, and let stand 5 minutes before slicing.
  8. Enjoy!
  9. If there are leftovers, reheat in a 350-degree oven–not the microwave.

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Chicken Tikka Masala.

Gluten-free | Soy-free | Nut-free | Clean-eating option

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So I’m realizing that we eat a lot of variations on chicken and rice in our house. We have several curry versions, the NYC street cart version, and a few comfort food versions from my semi-homemade days, just off the top of my head.

This is the I-used-to-live-near-an-awesome-Indian-restaurant-but-I-don’t-anymore-but-I-really-don’t-need-to-leave-the-house-anymore-for-delicious-Indian-takeout version. It’s one of my husband’s favorite meals ever. And my favorite part about it–besides how delicious it is–is that odds are good you have all of the ingredients in your spice cabinet! I can’t believe it’s taken me this long to blog it!

Chicken Tikka Masala

Adapted from here

Marinade:

  • 1 cup plain yogurt (I use lowfat Greek yogurt)
  • 1-2 Tbsp. lemon juice
  • 2 tsp. ground cumin
  • 1 tsp. ground cinnamon
  • up to 1/2 tsp. cayenne pepper
  • 1 1/2 tsp. paprika
  • up to 1 1/2 tsp. black pepper
  • 1 1/2 tsp. ground ginger
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • 3 boneless, skinless chicken breasts, cut into strips

Masala:

  • 1 Tbsp. butter
  • 1 jalapeno pepper, seeded and finely chopped
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 2 tsp. ground cumin
  • 2 tsp. paprika
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 8 oz. can no-salt-added tomato sauce
  • 1 cup cream

Rice:**

  • 3 cups water
  • 1 1/2 cups jasmine rice
  • 3/4 tsp. salt
  • 1 1/2 Tbsp. unsalted butter
  1. For the marinade, combine all ingredients except chicken in a medium bowl. Add chicken and toss until coated. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate at least a couple hours (I usually do overnight).
  2. Grill chicken (original way) or cook under a broiler on high on a broiler pan (my lazy easy way). Discard marinade.
  3. Meanwhile, for the masala, melt butter in a large deep skillet over medium heat. Add jalapeno and garlic and saute one minute or until fragrant. Season with spices and salt and stir to toast spices.
  4. Add tomato sauce and cream. Simmer on medium-low until sauce thickens, about 15 minutes, stirring occasionally. Begin cooking rice (below). Add grilled (broiled) chicken and simmer 10 minutes.
  5. Rice: bring water to boil. Add remaining ingredients, cover, and reduce heat. Cook 15 minutes, fluff, and serve topped with tikka masala.

**A couple notes about the rice: first of all, yes, I know that Basmati rice is best suited. However, I find Jasmine more economical and versatile, if less authentic. If you want a clean eating version, use brown rice and cook 45 minutes instead of 15.

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