Pesto Zucchini “Spaghetti”

Stumbled across another great recipe this week that uses zucchini in place of pasta. We have totally fallen in love with this yummy new treat, so I was all over this one instantly! The original recipe as I found it called for a ton of bacon and more cheese than anyone needs in one serving (who’d have ever thought I would actually say that?!). I switched it around a bit, submitted it to Nutrition Support, and here are the results. Quick, easy, cheap … the trifecta!

Ingredients:

1-1/2 cups zucchini, julienned thinly (mandolin slicers are great for this)

generous pinch of salt

1 lb boneless, skinless chicken breasts

1/2 tsp Mrs Dash onion & herb seasoning

1-1/2 cups broccoli florets

2 tbsp basil pesto

2 tbsp fresh Parmesan cheese, for garnish

Directions:

1. Place zucchini strips in a colander over a bowl or in the sink. Sprinkle zucchini with salt and toss to combine. Let the zucchini sit for 15 minutes while the salt extracts the moisture. Drain excess water, squeezing zucchini, if necessary.

2. Cook chicken on stovetop until cooked all the way through. Cut into bite-sized pieces. Set aside.

3. Return the pan to medium heat. Add the Mrs Dash and broccoli, stirring frequently for about 3-5 minutes or until crisp-tender. Add zucchini and pesto, tossing to combine all ingredients. The mixture only needs to warm up, so 2-3 minutes of cooking should do it.

4. Serve with freshly grated Parmesan cheese.

Nutritional breakdown: Makes 2 servings, each serving is:

1 leaner protein

3 vegetable servings

2-1/4 condiments

1 healthy fat

Steamy Creamy Squash Packet

My daughter’s favorite veggie (well, second favorite if we count tomatoes) is zucchini. During the summer months, we grill up zucchini and summer squash regularly, and she devours it like she’s never getting another meal. So it has become a standard ingredient around our house, and I love finding new, creative ways to use it. This yummy new entry was sent to me by (again) my friend Kim. She is keeping me hooked up with awesome stuff to try out – Hope you all are enjoying her ideas as well! This one is a veggie only recipe, so it’s a great one to pull out when you have either chicken breasts or a piece of fish thawed out and are trying to decide what to have with it.

Ingredients:

1-1/2 cups zucchini or yellow squash

1-1/2 tsp light butter

1/8 tsp dried oregano

Salt and pepper to taste

1/2 tsp chopped garlic

1 wedge Laughing Cow Light Swiss cheese

Directions:

1. Preheat oven to 375. Thinly slice zucchini or squash lengthwise, forming wide, flat strips. Cut strips in half width-wise and set aside.

2. Lay a large piece of heavy-duty tin foil on a baking sheet and spray with non-stick baking spray. Place squash in the center of the foil. Top with butter. Sprinkle oregano, salt and pepper. Top with garlic.

3. Place another large piece of foil over the squash. Fold together and seal all four edges of the two foil pieces, forming a well-sealed packet.

4. Bake in oven until veggies are soft and tender, about 20 minutes.

5. Place cheese wedge in a small microwave-safe bowl and microwave for 20 seconds. Stir until smooth, add to veggies, and toss to coat. If you like, season with additional salt and pepper.

Nutritional Breakdown:

3 Vegetable servings

1 healthy fat

About 1 condiment, depending on how much salt and pepper you use.

Fettuccine Alfredo

Yes, you read that correctly … Fettuccine Alfredo. Of course, this is going to be a MUCH healthier version than what most of us are used to. But decidedly yummy! This is yet another contribution from my friend, Kim, who is simply amazing with the recipes. This has been fully Lean & Green approved by TSFL’s Nutrition Support, so anyone following the 5&1 plan can enjoy this and know they are staying true to program!

Ingredients:

1 cup spaghetti squash (or you could substitute 8 oz Shirataki noodles, but I prefer spaghetti squash these days!)

1 wedge Laughing Cow Light Herb & Garlic cheese

1/4 tsp garlic powder

1/2 tsp light butter, melted

1 tbsp light Parmesan cheese

6 oz cooked chicken breasts, cubed

1 cup broccoli, steamed

Directions:

1. Cook spaghetti squash. Easiest way I’ve found to do this is to carve a large X in one side of the squash, place it in the microwave and cook on high for about 10 minutes. It is then soft enough to cut through easily. After it has cooled slightly, cut it in half, scoop out the seeds, then remove the squash by scraping it out with a fork.

2. Grill or cook chicken breasts.

3. Put Laughing Cow cheese in bottom of a large bowl and “smoosh” around.

4. Add squash on top of Laughing Cow cheese.

5. Add garlic and stir ingredients well.

6. While stirring, add butter to help blend ingredients well.

7. Slowly sprinkle Parmesan cheese and stir.

8. Add cooked chicken breasts and steamed broccoli

Nutritional Breakdown:

1 Leaner portion

3 Vegetable portions

2 condiments

1 healthy fat

As listed, this makes one serving. Obviously, to create this meal for your entire family, just increase the ingredients accordingly – and this is one the whole family will enjoy!

Zucchini Noodles & Shrimp

One of my new favorite foods has been shrimp. Back in the day, the only way I would eat shrimp was deep-fried, with something unhealthy to dip it in. Now that I have learned the pleasures of eating nutritiously, I have found all kinds of new ways to enjoy this delicacy. I stumbled across a version of this recipe as I was browsing food blogs yesterday, and it instantly “spoke” to me. Few minor tweaks, some input from Nutrition Support, and here is the final product. We’ll be eating this at our house tonight, and my mouth is watering just thinking about it!

Ingredients:

2 tsp olive oil

2 thin slices of onion

2 cloves minced garlic

15 oz raw shrimp, thawed, peeled & de-veined

1/8 tsp salt

1/4 tsp pepper

1 1/2 cups canned diced tomatoes

pinch of crushed red pepper

1 tsp chopped fresh basil

1 1/2 cups grated zucchini (about 3-4 zucchini)

2 oz low-fat cheese

Directions:

Heat the olive oil over medium heat in a large skillet. Add the onions and saute for about 3-4 minutes, until softened. Add the shrimp and garlic. Cook the shrimp for about 1 minute on each side, until just opaque. Remove the shrimp from the pan. Add the tomatoes, crushed red pepper, salt, pepper and basil. Bring to a boil, then reduce to a simmer and cook for about 5 minutes. Add the zucchini and saute over medium heat until slightly softened, about 3 minutes. Then add the shrimp and heat through, about 1-2 minutes more. Serve with low-fat shredded cheese of your choice.

Nutritional breakdown: Makes 2 servings. Each serving consists of:

1 leaner protein

1 healthy fat

3 condiments

3 vegetable servings

Cabbage Casserole … again …

As we are only about a month away from St. Patrick’s Day, I figured it was time to re-visit my Cabbage Casserole recipe. And this time, I wanted to make sure it is fully Lean & Green compliant. So, with some minor tweaking from Nutrition Support at TSFL (some of the most amazing people on the planet!), here it is!

Ingredients:

1.5 lb lean ground beef

10 sprays of non-stick spray

1/2 tsp onion powder

2 cups mushrooms, chopped

1/2 tsp salt

1/8 tsp pepper

1/2 cup shirataki rice (Did you all know about this rice?? I knew about the noodles, but I am SOOO stoked to find out there is a rice version!!)

1 1/2 cups diced tomatoes

2 1/2 cups coarsely chopped green cabbage

Directions:

In a large frying pan, add non-stick spray and ground beef. Stir and break up for 1-2 minutes. Add onion powder, salt, pepper, mushrooms and rice. Mix well and continue sweating for 2-3 minutes. Add tomatoes and stir well. Put cabbage on bottom of a greased baking dish. Pour meat mixture over raw cabbage and bake, covered, at 325 degrees for 1 1/2 hours.

This meal is great re-heated, so it’s a great one to make double batches of and store for another meal!

Makes 4 full Lean & Green servings as listed. Breakdown per serving is 1 Lean serving, 1 Condiment & 3 Veggie servings.

Broccoli and Mushroom Casserole

Time for another new vegetarian recipe! I came across a whole collection of yummy sounding recipes that I am tweaking and working with TSFL’s Nutrition Support on. This one would still require a protein serving to make a full lean & green meal. But it’s a yummy way to have the veggie portion of your meal. Hope you enjoy it!

Ingredients:

2 cups fresh broccoli florets

1 cup fresh mushrooms, sliced

2 packages Medifast crackers, crushed (or, if you are not following the 5 & 1 plan, you could substitute 1/2 cup of bread crumbs here)

2 tbsp Parmesan cheese

1 clove garlic

4 tsp margarine

1/2 tsp oregano

1/2 tsp thyme

1/4 tsp salt

Directions:

1. Preheat oven to 350.

2. Fill a saucepan half full of water & bring it to a boil. Add broccoli & boil until it is bright green, but still crisp, about 2 minutes.

3. Heat margarine in a skillet over medium heat. Saute garlic for about 2 minutes. Add cracker crumbs & cook until light brown. Remove from heat.

4. Add Parmesan, oregano, thyme & salt. Stir well.

5. Place broccoli & mushrooms in 9×13 casserole dish. Add cracker crumb mixture. Bake for 20 minutes.

Makes 2 servings. Each serving is 3 vegetable servings, 3 condiments, 2 fats & 1 optional snack. You’ll want to choose a protein from the leanest options list to accompany this veggie dish, since it includes 2 full fat servings already. Would be great to add some ground turkey (or elk, in our case) to, or maybe serve with a side of fish.

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Vegetarian Crockpot Lasagna

I was recently looking for some Lean & Green crockpot ideas, because I am all about the easiest meal possible. And it really doesn’t get any easier than the crockpot, right? I stumbled across a recipe for crockpot lasagna. As it was, fully vegetarian, but not approved for the 5&1 plan, because it still had noodles in it. So I played around with it a bit, and here is what I came up with, along with a few modifications from Nutrition Support. This is fully Lean & Green approved as shown here. Cost was about $10, or a little over $3 a serving. Which is pretty good for ANY lasagna recipe! Hope you enjoy it!

Ingredients:

1 1/2 cups zucchini, trimmed & diced

1 cup sliced white mushrooms

1 cup sweet red pepper, diced

1 container (15 oz) low-fat ricotta cheese

5 oz low-fat shredded mozzarella cheese

1/2 tbsp Italian seasoning

2 cloves garlic, chopped

1/4 tsp black pepper

1 jar Walden Farms pasta sauce

8 slices or 1 cup eggplant, sliced lengthwise & halved (used in place of lasagna noodles)

1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese

Directions:

1. Coat slow cooker bowl with non-stick cooking spray (10 sprays)

2. Thinly slice/dice zucchini by hand or with food processor. Place in a large bowl and add mushrooms and red pepper. In a medium-sized bowl, combine ricotta, 1 cup shredded cheese, Italian seasoning, garlic and black pepper.

3. Spread 1/2 cup pasta sauce on bottom of slow cooker. Top with 2 “noodles” (4 halves), overlapping as needed.

4. Blend 3/4 cup pasta sauce with 1/2 cup water and set aside.

5. Stir remaining sauce and 2 tbsp parmesan cheese into zucchini mixture. Spread 1/2 of zucchini mixture over “noodles” in slow cooker.

6. Top with 2 more “noodles” (4 halves). Spread ricotta mixture over “noodles”. Top with 2 more “noodles”. Spread remaining zucchini mixture over “noodles”, and top with remaining “noodles”. Pour pasta sauce/water mixture over the top, cover and cook on HIGH for 4 1/2 hours or LOW for 6 1/2 hours.

7. Add remaining mozzarella cheese and parmesan cheese for last 10 minutes of cook time. Let sit for 10 minutes. Serve and enjoy!

Makes 3 Lean & Green servings. Each serving is 1 protein, 3 veggies & 3 condiments.

Sesame Chicken

Another new recipe from my friend Kim – this lady needs to start her own recipe blog! Haven’t had a bad one yet from her! One of my favorite meals when going out for Chinese food, prior to changing our eating habits, was either Sesame Beef or Sesame Chicken. So excited to have a healthy option that recreates that! This recipe has been Lean & Green approved by Nutrition Support, so you can all enjoy it!

Ingredients:

10 sprays of pan spray

24 oz raw boneless skinless lean chicken breast, chopped into bite-sized pieces

1/8 tsp salt

1/8 tsp black pepper

1/4 cup fat-free liquid egg substitute (like Eggbeaters)

1 packet Medifast multigrain crackers, crushed

1/4 cup fat-free chicken broth

2 tbsp sugar free pancake syrup

2 tbsp seasoned rice vinegar

1 tbsp ketchup

1/2 tbsp lite/low-sodium soy sauce

1/2 tsp sesame oil

1/2 tsp crushed garlic

1 tsp sesame seeds

2 tbsp thinly sliced scallions

Optional: crushed red pepper flakes

Directions:

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

Spray a baking sheet with nonstick spray and set aside.

Place chicken in a bowl, season with salt and pepper, and cover with egg substitute. Toss to coat and set aside.

Place half of the cracker crumbs in another bowl. Use a fork to transfer half the chicken to the cracker bowl, allowing excess egg substitute to drain back into the egg bowl. Thoroughly coat chicken with cracker crumbs, and then transfer to the baking sheet. Wipe the bowl clean, and then repeat with remaining cracker crumbs and chicken.

Bake chicken in the oven until fully cooked, about 10 minutes.

Meanwhile, to make the sauce, in a small non-stick pot, combine broth, syrup, vinegar, ketchup, soy sauce, sesame oil and garlic. Mix well over medium heat on stove. Stirring often, cook until thick enough to coat a spoon, 2-3 minutes. Set aside.

Place cooked chicken in a bowl, top with sauce and toss to coat. Sprinkle with sesame seeds and scallions. If you like, add a sprinkle of crushed red pepper flakes. Eat up!

Breakdown: Makes 3 servings, each serving is 1 Leaner serving and 3 condiments.

Since no oriental dish is complete without rice, I’d suggest having some riced cauliflower to serve this over. 1 1/2 cups will equal 3 Veggie servings. To make riced cauliflower, place cauliflower florets in your food processor and whiz away until the pieces are about the size of rice. Transfer rice to a microwave-safe bowl and cook for 3-5 minutes. Add your sesame chicken, and you have an amazing meal!

Squash & Chicken Chili

This is a super yummy new recipe I found and modified … and then modified again with the help of the amazing Nutrition Support division of TSFL. So, the recipe as I am going to post it is Lean & Green approved and can be used during the weight loss portion of your program (if following the 5 and 1). However, if you have started Transition or are in Maintenance, where it calls for 1 1/2 cups of mixed veggies, this is where I would substitute in 1 1/2 cups of butternut squash! The rest of the recipe is exactly as it was before working with Nutrition Support. Hope you enjoy it as much as my hubby and I did!

Ingredients:

1 3/4 lb boneless, skinless chicken breast, cubed (3 Leaner servings)

1 cup green bell pepper (2 veggie servings)

1 1/2 cups diced zucchini, turnips, cauliflower (3 veggie servings)

2 cups tomatoes (4 veggie servings)

1 cup low sodium chicken broth (1 condiment)

1/2 tsp Mrs Dash Onion & Herb seasoning (2 condiments)

1 clove garlic, minced (1 condiment)

1 tsp cumin (2 condiments)

1 tsp chili powder (2 condiments)

1/2 tsp optional seasoning of your choice (we threw in a little chipotle chili seasoning) (1 condiment)

Cook chicken, green bell pepper, Mrs Dash seasoning and garlic in Dutch Oven over medium-high heat until chicken is no longer pink. Drain well and return to Dutch Oven. Stir in tomatoes and remaining ingredients; bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Cover, reduce heat to medium-low and let simmer for 15 minutes, stirring occasionally. Cook, uncovered, for an additional 15 minutes or until veggies have softened.

Makes 3 Lean & Green meals. Each serving consists of: 1 lean protein, 3 veggies and 3 condiments.

If you are in Maintenance and have added back in all your food groups, you could also add the 2 ingredients I completely eliminated from this recipe – 1 can of chili beans and 1 cup of corn. If you add these, you’ll add the beans with the rest of the veggies. Corn gets thrown in at the very end and only needs to cook with the rest of the ingredients for a couple minutes.

Elk Steak in the Crockpot!

As we currently have a freezer full of elk meat (thank you hubby!), I have been on the hunt (pun intended) for creative new recipes to use it in … recipes that also comply with our Lean & Green lifestyle. And I found one that I can even do in the crockpot! You all know how I like cheap and easy, so this is the perfect recipe for me. The elk was “free” since hubby got it himself and cut the steaks himself (with the help of Dad and his uncles, that is), and it doesn’t get easier than the crockpot!

I sent this off to TSFL Nutrition Support this week, so the recipe as listed here is fully Lean & Green compliant for those who are on the 5 and 1 plan. If you substitute another meat into this recipe, keep in mind that the breakdown I am going to give you is for using a meat from the leanest protein list. If you use a meat that is not quite as lean, you will need to adjust your portions to accommodate that.

Ingredients:

    2 lbs elk round steak
    3 tbsp low sodium soy sauce
    1/2 tsp Mrs Dash onion & herb seasoning
    1 tsp chopped garlic
    1 tsp Splenda
    1/4 tsp salt
    1/4 tsp pepper
    1/4 tsp ginger
    1 1/2 cups low sodium canned tomatoes
    1 1/2 cups green pepper cut into strips
    1/2 cup cold water

Cut the elk round steak into strips. Mix next 9 ingredients in slow cooker. Add elk meat. Cook on low for 8-10 hours.

You will need to add one more vegetable serving to create a full lean & green. You could serve it over a 1/2 cup of mashed cauliflower or a 1/2 cup of Shiritaki noodles. The breakdown below takes this extra veggie serving into account.

Breakdown: (makes 3 servings, these numbers are how it breaks down per serving)

    1 Leanest protein
    3 condiments
    3 vegetable servings