Friday, November 28, 2014

Leftover Turkey Lettuce Wraps

Thanksgiving has come and gone another year! It was a blessed day for us, filled with delicious food, amazing company, and laughter and joy. Even with so many hard things going on in our country and the world, there is much to be thankful for!

One superficial thing that I am thankful for is...leftovers! You heard right, Thanksgiving leftovers are some of my favorite. I don't know why, but there's something just so delicious about it. I almost like turkey more as leftovers more than on Thanksgiving day.

The key is to get creative with it! This year I decided to experiment and make a new recipe especially for turkey leftovers, and I'm pretty sure these turkey lettuce wraps hit the nail on the head for me.

They are super simple, and you can do SO MUCH with them! You can mix them with what you want, top them like a taco and enjoy!

Turkey Lettuce Wraps

- 1 head of butter lettuce (or romaine leaves, or any sturdy lettuce leaf of your choice)
- 2 cups of chopped leftover turkey
- 2 tsp cooking oil or butter
- 1 medium onion, diced
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- 1 green bell pepper, diced
- 1 cucumber, diced
- 2 tsp smoked paprika
- 1 tsp chili powder
- 1/4 tsp cayenne pepper powder (more if you can handle the heat)
- Salt and Pepper to taste
-Optional: plain greek yogurt, cheese, small diced onions

1. Wash and dry the lettuce leaves. Keep the leaves in tact and set aside.
2. In a medium skillet, heat your preferred cooking oil or butter over medium high. Once hot, add your diced onion, and sautee until translucent.
3. Add garlic and cook for one minute, or until fragrant.
4. Add your diced bell pepper and cucumber, cook until tender.
5. Add the chopped turkey, and mix until incorporated.
6. Season with paprika, chili powder, cayenne pepper, and salt and pepper.
7. Cook for 5 minutes on medium heat.
8. You can individually divide the turkey on the lettuce cups, or serve it in a bowl and let people fix their own like a taco!
9. You can top the tacos with plain greek yogurt, cheese, onions, tomatoes, hot sauce...whatever you want!
10. ENJOY!

Eating leftovers do not have to be boring. I love Mexican food, so this inspired dish was cleaned up a bit and uses those yummy turkey leftovers! Try this one out and use up all that delicious meat!

What's your favorite taco topping? Share below!

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Mashed Cauliflower

Cauliflower is one of those vegetables that I had no idea about how delicious it was until this year. Sure I have had cauliflower before, but I never knew what all you could do with this amazing little vegetable! And, bonus, it’s PACKED with nutrients that help your body too!

(That's the mashed cauliflower in the bowl towards the front by the gravy!)

This year as I’m trying to stay on track with my health during the holidays, I decided to nix a carb from the menu. Now, I LOVE stuffing (dressing, or whatever you call it), so I knew that had to stay. Since my hubby wanted some sweet potato casserole as well, I knew mashed potatoes were the ones to go, even though I do enjoy them!

So instead of not having anything like that, I decided to try my hand at mashed cauliflower! And let me tell you, it’s delicious. Of course it tastes a little different than mashed potatoes, but I actually feel cauliflower has more flavor, so bonus! And, you’re getting a serving of veggies in.

How do you make mashed cauliflower, you ask? Well step on into my kitchen and I’ll tell you how! It’s super easy, and could even be a dish you bring to share at your Thanksgiving celebration this week!

Mashed Cauliflower

1 large head of cauliflower, cut into large chunks
Drizzle of olive oil (or whatever cooking oil you prefer)
1 cup of sharp cheddar cheese
1 cup of chicken broth
1/2 tsp paprika
2 tsp garlic powder
½ of an onion
Salt and Pepper to taste

1.     Preheat oven to 350 degrees
2.     In a large bowl, place cauliflower chunks, drizzle lightly with olive oil.
3.     Sprinkle paprika, and garlic powder, toss to coat.
4.     Spread across baking sheet, cook about 25-30 minutes, or until cauliflower is tender.
5.     Remove cauliflower from pan and place into a food processor with ¼ cup of chicken broth, the onion, and ¾ cup of cheese.
6.     Blend until smooth, check every few minutes and add chicken broth as necessary if you want it a bit smoother. Only do a little bit at a time.
7.     Salt and pepper to taste, transfer to a serving bowl, sprinkle with remaining ¼ cup of cheese and lightly stir.
8.     Serve hot and enjoy!
You can definitely play around with this mashed cauliflower recipe! I’ve seen people add roasted garlic (YUM!), you could treat it like you do regular mashed potatoes and even add in some chopped bacon and chives to go on top! You can be as creative as you want to be with this dish, and know that you’re getting a serving of veggies in as well!

Do you have a favorite cauliflower recipe? Be sure to share it below, I love trying new recipes, and I might even feature it on my blog!

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Holiday Week Workout Plan

As we are only a few short days away from our big Thanksgiving celebration day, I’ve been planning my strategy for staying on track this week with my health! This is something completely new and foreign to me. I never paid attention to my health, especially around the holidays!

Darn it all, I wanted to have my cake, and eat it too!

The only problem was is that I would literally just eat, and eat, and eat until I had stuffed myself so full that it was quite uncomfortable, and I didn’t even enjoy it anymore. My relationship with food around the holidays was pretty poor, and I justified it to myself, and thus packed on the pounds.

Now, hear me out. I am NOT saying to be a hum bug and don’t enjoy the Thanksgiving dinner and celebrations this holiday season. Not at all. I say enjoy! Be merry and giving and thankful. But be SMART about it. Make a plan, stick to it, enjoy the holiday, and get back on track the next day. It’s all about balance!

Balance for me this year looks like creating a workout plan for the days before and after Thanksgiving, and creating a plan of action for how I am going to eat ON Thanksgiving. So what’s my workout plan and plan of action for this holiday week?

Monday – 21 Day Fix Total Body Cardio workout, 10am
Tuesday – 21 Day Fix Upper Body Fix workout, 7:30am
Wednesday – 21 Day Fix Lower Body Fix workout, 7:30am
Friday – 21 Day Fix Pilates workout, 1pm
Saturday – 21 Day Fix Dirty 30 workout, 2pm
Sunday – 21 Day Fix Yoga workout, 7pm

(Never miss a Monday...or a workout after a holiday.)

So as you can see, I’m still sticking to my normal workout routine for the most part, but taking my rest day on Thursday so I have the day off to enjoy with my family. Friday, Saturday, and Sunday? I’m right back in it. And I’ve been working out all this week leading up to Thanksgiving as well- and you know what? It feels great. It has actually given me MORE energy than I had before.

Now, you might be wondering what my  “plan of action” is for Thanksgiving day? Well, it may seem simple, but it’s something I’ve always struggled with. I told my husband to keep me accountable to having only ONE PLATE of food for Thanksgiving dinner. (This coming from someone who would have 2 to 3 plates total for the meal…yikes!)

I want to intentionally think about what I am eating, be THANKFUL for it, and ENJOY it! Not scarf it down so I can fill my plate again. I want to appreciate the flavor, the taste, and the company of those around me!

I will also be having my Shakeology in the morning to keep my cravings curbed, and it’s my goal to drink a gallon of water on Thanksgiving to help keep everything flushed and me satisfied and hydrated!

What about you? What’s your plan for staying active this holiday, and your plan for enjoying instead of being uncomfortable with Thanksgiving dinner? Make a plan and tell someone!

Monday, November 24, 2014

Sweet Potato Casserole

One traditional Thanksgiving dish (so I have been told by my husband) is sweet potato casserole. Now, I did not grow up eating sweet potato casserole at Thanksgiving, but I had heard of it. Since my husband loves this dish I decided to make my own version and clean it up a bit!

Now, as I did not grow up in the south, I am no expert on Sweet Potato Casserole. But, I did know that it usually came laden with some butter, coated with some crushed corn flakes, topped with marshmallows and mixed with lots of brown sugar and cinnamon. And while I know all that tastes delicious, I wanted to create my own topping for those yummy sweet potatoes!

Check out this twist on a traditional Thanksgiving recipe!

Cleaned Up Sweet Potato Casserole

-4 to 5 medium/large sweet potatoes, peeled and cut into cubes
-1 banana
-3/4 cup of shredded, unsweetened coconut (divided)
-2 Tbsp maple syrup
-2 Tbsp brown sugar
-1/4 cup of water
-1/2 cup crushed pecans, plus a handful (about 1/4 cup)
-1/4 cup crushed almonds or walnuts (or you can use more pecans)
-1 apple, cored and cubed into small pieces
-3 tsp cinnamon (divided)
-1/2 tsp allspice
-1/4 tsp cloves
-1/4 tsp nutmeg

-Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
-Bring a large pot of water to a full rolling boil, add your sweet potatoes. Cook until tender.
-Once sweet potatoes are tender, drain (reserving just a little bit of the cooking liquid, about 1/4 to 1/3 cup) and mash with the reserved liquid and banana. 
-Add 1/4 cup of shredded unsweetened coconut to the sweet potatoes, 2 tsp of cinnamon, and a handful of pecans. Mix until all incorporated.
-In a medium skillet sprayed with cooking spray, heat your 2 Tbsp of maple syrup and brown sugar with 1/4 cup of water. When it is all incorporated, add in your apples.
-Add remaining 1 tsp cinnamon, allspice, cloves, and nutmeg. 
-Continue to stir to prevent burning. When the apples begin to turn tender, add your nuts and 1/4 cup of coconut. 
-Cook for about 5 minutes, until it begins to thicken and everything is incorporated. 
- In a greased 9x12 baking dish, layer the mashed sweet potatoes on the bottom and spread across.
- Spread the nut and apple mixture over the top of the sweet potatoes, then sprinkle with remaining 1/4 cup of coconut.
-Bake for 20 minutes, or until heated through. 

Who else loves some good sweet potato casserole? What is your favorite topping to put on sweet potatoes? Share below! 

Sunday, November 23, 2014

Thanksgiving Swaps

Zach and I are sharing our very first married Thanksgiving this year! Since both of us love this time of year, and truly enjoy the season of Thanksgiving, we decided that we would have our own Thanksgiving dinner a week before the actual day to celebrate together!

And since I love cooking (especially Thanksgiving dishes), and Zach loves to eat Thanksgiving food, it was a win- win for us. And bonus, we got a killer deal on our turkey! Score!

Since we began eating healthy this year, I wanted to mix things up a bit with our Thanksgiving dinner and experiment with a few new recipes that were traditional Thanksgiving dishes “cleaned up” a bit. Of course we made the regular versions of some of our favorites, but added in a few news ones, and I must say, they turned out quite tasty!

Our Thanksgiving menu consisted of…

-Roast Turkey (seasoned with lots of yummy herbs and spices, with an onion and celery stalk into the cavity, then baked in an oven bag…seriously those things work GREAT to create a juicy bird!)
-Stuffing (or as the south calls it…dressing)
-Mashed Cauliflower
-Garlic Green Beans
-Cranberry sauce (made from fresh cranberries, not canned)
-Sweet potato casserole
-Pumpkin Pie

As you can see, we had quite the spread! I ended up cooking for the majority of the morning, but I wouldn’t have it any other way. Cooking definitely is a stress reliever for me, and I absolutely adore cooking from scratch, which is what I did for all of these recipes!

The menu items that are in bold were recipes that I cleaned up a bit for our Thanksgiving dinner! Here’s a quick peak at what I did to each (full recipes to come later!)

-Stuffing (dressing, whatever you call it) Now this one I didn’t clean up  completely, it’s still a carb heavy dish, but what can I say, the stuff is my favorite part of the Thanksgiving meal! Particularly how my mom cooked it, and how I cook it now. We always had a sausage dressing with onions and celery mixed in (so pork sausage, cubed stuffing, celery, onion, and chicken broth). For this recipe we switched out pork sausage for some fresh mild turkey sausage from our local farmers market. So good!

-Mashed Cauliflower – Because we were already having stuffing and sweet potatoes, I didn’t want to add another potato dish into the mix. Instead, I switched potatoes for cauliflower and made garlic mashed cauliflower. If you haven’t tried it, just wait for the recipe and make your own. SO good, and you get a serving of veggies!

-Garlic Green Beans – Traditionally I always had green bean casserole, which is very tasty indeed. But for our Thanksgiving meal I didn’t want to have to make and bake that, and it’s typically a heavier dish so I opted to cook fresh green beans with fresh sautéed garlic, seasoned with some spices. Very tasty!

-Sweet Potato Casserole – This dish isn’t something I had growing up, but Zach loves it! Usually it’s topped with corn flakes and marshmellows, but I wanted to lighten it up so I created my own topping with some “candied” nuts and coconut! Turned out pretty good, and was hubby approved!

As you can see, we did not go hungry on our Thanksgiving meal. We will be having leftovers for a while! But I don’t mind. That’s half the fun of Thanksgiving dinner, right?? My point is you can still enjoy your Thanksgiving meal. Pick the things you truly love and enjoy, and then find creative swaps for the rest!

Stay tuned for my mashed cauliflower and sweet potato casserole recipe later this week, and be sure to follow me on Facebook and Instagram to keep up to date with recipes and tips!

My question for you is…what is YOUR favorite Thanksgiving dish?