Turkey, Broccoli & Spinach Spaghetti Squash Lasagna

I didn’t realize until I started writing up this post that just a couple weeks ago I stuffed another squash…but I assure you this is not a new blog theme (“101 ways to stuff a squash“? “Food cooked in other Food Food Blog”…I’ll keep brainstorming it). I can’t help it that squash are both delicious and also a perfect carrier for other food!

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I remember distinctly the first time I had spaghetti squash – I was about 40lbs or so overweight, LOVED pasta, and my “portion” for spaghetti was basically about 3/4 box…for myself. This was not working for me and my goals lol (shocking).  So I started to find substitutions for my pasta, and found spaghetti squash – I don’t know how I hadn’t had this before, but that’s besides the point.  I made spaghetti squash with meatballs, and it was delicious – and from then on, I’ve been hooked.

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This week I made a spaghetti squash “lasagna”, which I saw on a vegetarian food blog (yes, I read food blogs for free reading…), but added ground turkey to it to add a little more oomph to it. This one I had been wanting for a while, and as soon as I made it my brain started spiraling with other ways to prepare it. While this one was loaded with spinach, onion, broccoli, and ground turkey, my head couldn’t stop thinking about making a spaghetti squash chicken parm lasagna…but so as to not turn this into the aforementioned stuffed squash blog, I will table that for another blog in the fall.

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As with all the other recipes I post here, this is simple, and depending on the squash size, this can be very filling for two people as a main dish. Now, there are a couple ways you can go about cooking your spaghetti squash, some people microwave it (you can google how to do it if you choose this method – it’s faster, so if you are in a time crunch, this may be a better option), but I always prefer to take a little more time, and cook it in the oven, as I think it brings out way more flavor.

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RECIPE:
*ingredient amounts may vary depending on size of squash…but any additional filling is delicious as leftovers!

  • 1 2½- to 3-pound spaghetti squash, halved lengthwise and seeded
  • 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 bunch broccoli, chopped
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1lb Ground Turkey
  • 2c. spinach
  • 1/2c. red onion, chopped
  • ¼ teaspoon crushed red pepper (optional)
  • 1 cup shredded part-skim mozzarella cheese, divided
  • ¼ cup shredded Parmesan cheese, divided
  • ¾ teaspoon Italian seasoning
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • ¼ teaspoon ground pepper

 

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DIRECTIONS:

  1. Position racks in upper and lower thirds of oven; preheat to 400°F.IMG_3914
  2. Rub olive oil on inside and outside of squash, and place squash halves cut-side down on a foil-lined rimmed baking sheet. Bake in a 400°F oven until the squash is tender, 40 to 50 minutes.  To test if it is done, gently poke the skin of the squash with a fork, it should be tender and the kin should be soft and tender when done. When you take them out of the oven, change the temp to 450°F
  3. Meanwhile, heat oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add broccoli, garlic, and red pepper (if using); cook, stirring frequently, for 2 minutes. Add 2T water and cook, stirring, until the broccolini is tender, 3 to 5 minutes more. Transfer to a large bowl.
  4. Cook Turkey in same pan, until just cooked through, add red onion, and spinach until spinach is just wilted, then add the broccoli mix to it, stir around for about a minute until all combined then set aside again to the mixing bowl.
  5. Use a fork to scrape the squash from the shells into the bowl with the mix that you already prepped.
  6. Stir ¾ cup mozzarella, 2 tablespoons Parmesan, Italian seasoning, salt and pepper into the squash mixture. Divide it between the shells; top with the remaining ¼ cup mozzarella and 2 tablespoons Parmesan.
  7. Bake on the lower rack for 10 minutes. Move to the upper rack, turn the broiler to high and broil, watching carefully, until the cheese starts to brown, about 2 minutes.

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Feel free to adjust the ingredients to your liking, taking out the meat, changing the meat, adjusting the veggies, etc.

Remember, there is no perfect diet, there is no one-size-fits-all meal plan. Healthy food is only good if you will eat it. So set yourself up for success by making meals that are manageable for you – that taste good to you! In our nutrition program, we often talk about trying to be 1% better than yesterday. This applies to our food choices (and life) – it’s not about being completely perfect all the time, it’s about finding little things that you can adjust. Is this meal perfect?  Screw perfect, but it’s not 3/4 box of spaghetti, and for me, that is a huge step forward in my never-ending journey to nutritional balance in my life.

 

Crunchy Veggie Quinoa Salad

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This week, I found myself in an interesting situation.  I prepped for a completely different meal to post about (and it WILL be posted someday), cooked it, and something seemed a bit off with the oven.  So…after my friendly Eversource guy came through, I am currently not able to use my stove, and will hopefully be back to cooking soon once I have a new oven!!

But, as I brought up to my nutrition group, these are the kind of situations that can sometimes throw people off their healthy eating/diet/nutrition plans.  What happens when you all of a sudden cannot cook? When the pans you had for your meals this week are now not possible? When the microwave is your only source of heating up food?  Well, you scrap the plans you had, and figure out something else.

So, we are in for another vegetarian meal this week, and I am not complaining at all!! I first found this recipe on a site called AvocadoPesto.com, made just a couple modifications to it, and here we have an amazing quinoa salad (never cooked quinoa in the microwave before…who really needs a stove anyway?)

Can you please for a moment appreciate all gorgeous color???  Okay.  Moving on.  One of the modifications I made to the recipe on AvocadoPesto, is I doubled it…because after just looking at it online I already knew I would want more than a couple servings.

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This can be used as a meat-free dish, but to be honest, I would love some grilled chicken mixed in here!  While this does take a bit more prep time (lots of chopping), I don’t mind, because the end result is fresh and crunchy and absolutely delicious. PLUS…it’s basically a two bowl dish – one for the quinoa, one for the dressing, so my only clean-was the two bowls, a knife and the cutting board.  Doesn’t get easier than that!

INGREDIENTS:
yields about 4-5c. quinoa salad…so a lot.  
1c. Broccoli finely chopped
2c. Quinoa cooked according to package instructions
3/4 small red onion, diced (raw or very lightly sautéed – use your personal preference)
1/2c. Carrots, grated
1.5 Handful Cilantro, chopped
1/2c. Chopped Green Onions
1/4c. Slivered Almonds (original recipe called for peanuts which would be yummy too!)

DRESSING:
1 Lime – juice & zest (+ more juice to taste)
2t Sesame Seeds
2T Guten Free Tamari
2T Sesame Oil
2T Rice Vinegar
3 cloves garlic. minced, and very lightly sautéed
1 inch piece of Ginger, minced – add this bit by bit to taste – a little bit goes a long way.
1T honey (optional: I added this because I only had a little ginger – sweetened it up a bit)

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Directions:
1. In large mixing bowl, combine quinoa, raw broccoli, red onion, carrots, cilantro, green onion, almonds, and gently mix it up until it’s all combined.

2. In small bowl whisk together all ingredients for dressing

3.  Pour dressing over quinoa salad, and serve warm!  (I’m pretty sure it will also be delicious cold!)

4. Store any leftovers in an airtight container, or even better, divide it up into small containers to bring to work with you for lunch!

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Enjoy!

 

 

SUPER SALAD

I was on my way to meet up with my sister for a picnic, and realized I should probably bring some food.  But being a single gal with a single guy’s fridge, and about 15 minutes until her arrival, I ran to the market to hopefully grab some stuff from the pre-made salad section (I know…shudder) for me and my vegetarian (meaning: no hotdogs or burgers allowed) sister.  Scanning their selection, I ordered some greek salad, an interesting bean salad, and a kale salad, which looked the most promising, but since it was from the Star Market deli, I wasn’t getting my hopes up.

I know, I know – I am not one for any pre-made anything from Star Market, but I figured you can’t go wrong with a few salads, and to my complete surprise, the kale salad was actually not bad!  There were a few things I wished were a bit different, the dressing, the toppings, etc…but the general idea?  Hell yeah I liked it!  So while the recipe below isn’t exactly the Star Market exact recipe, I think it may be a bit better, a bit healthier, and definitely fresher.  I usually make enough of this to last a couple days, putting the dressing on the whole salad at once so the flavors all absorb together over a day or so.

This has quickly become one of my favorite salads as it is bright, and full of flavor, and I know that each time I eat it I am refueling my body with everything my body needs to keep these workouts on track!

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INGREDIENTS:

There aren’t really any set measurements for this – it’s a salad – no need to measure here…you can’t really do this wrong.  I like to go a little heavy on the blueberries & almonds, and a little light on the craisins, but that’s just me!

Kale – spines removed and chopped to your preference – I like it in super small bites
Broccoli Slaw – I cheat on this – one time I made it from scratch, but it took way too much time and caused a MESS – then I saw that they sold it in the market in a bag – it’s shaved broccoli, red cabbage and carrots, and it’s ready to go for you. I will sometimes lightly sautee this and let it come back to room temp prior to putting it in the salad as sometimes the broccoli tends to be a bit rough for my liking.
Blueberries
Craisins
Sliced Almonds (if making a large salad to store for later, I leave these off and add them each time I serve the salad so they don’t get soggy from the dressing)

Optional Additions:

Avocado:  as if this is ever REALLY optional…
Chicken, Steak, etc…I tried it once with fish…but it is a little too much to be paired with a light fish in my opinion – needs the heartiness of some meat to be an equal match on the plate.

 

Dressing: Shallot/White Wine Vinaigrette

2T White Wine Vinegar
2t dijon mustard
salt & pepper to taste (about ½ t)
1 minced shallot
gradually whisk in ⅓ – ½ c olive oil

As with any dressing – doubling it is super easy.  I like to make mine in a mason jar so I can just shake it up instead of dealing with a whisk (anything to save on some dishes), and that way if you make a ton extra, you can just store it right in the jar for next time!
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