Homemade Salsa Recipe – Feel The Heat!

Homemade Salsa Recipe – Feel The Heat!

Erin, our guest blogger over at Food Wise Family, has a homemade salsa recipe with an awesome kick to it! So break out those tortilla chips, and get ready to make this quick and easy salsa just in time for Cinco de Mayo.

I like my salsas hot. With two jalapeños and a little bit of cayenne pepper in this homemade salsa recipe, you can definitely feel the heat. So I’ve added chunks of creamy avocado to help cool down each bite.

Not a Fan of Cilantro
Cilantro is very common in Mexican dishes and salsas, but this homemade salsa recipe just doesn’t have it. I am one of those people who isn’t sold on cilantro; my taste buds just don’t like it. The salsa needs some herbs to help balance out the flavor, though, so my favorite herb mix to use in my salsa is Italian seasoning. That’s right, Italian seasoning! Trust me on this one. However, if you are a fan of cilantro and you are wondering why on earth wouldn’t she use cilantro, by all means, sub a handful of fresh cilantro for the Italian seasoning.

This homemade salsa recipe is not only great with your favorite tortilla chips, but is so versatile and full of flavor, it complements anything that needs a punch of flavor.

Enjoy it on top of eggs, meats, fish, tacos, hamburgers, baked potatoes… the possibilities are endless.

Homemade Salsa Recipe

Total Time
5 mins

homemade salsa recipe

Ingredients
• 1 14.5oz can of diced tomatoes
• 2 jalapeños, seeded and roughly chopped
• 2 green onions, roughly chopped
• 1 tsp Italian seasoning
• 1/4 tsp ground cayenne pepper
• 1/4 tsp black pepper
• 1/8 tsp salt
• 1 small ripe avocado, cubed
Instructions

  1. Place all ingredients, except the avocado, in a food processor and pulse for 15 to 30 seconds.
  2. Put salsa in a bowl and lightly stir in the cubed avocado.
  3. Enjoy immediately. This will keep in the refrigerator for 3 to 5 days.

I believe that the food we put on the table should not only be healthy, but easy and full of flavor. Check out my website foodwisefamily.com for more wholesome recipes.

This recipe goes great with a Hibiscus Margarita! Read our Blog!

Crunchy Snack Recipe – Maple Cinnamon Glazed Pecans

Crunchy Snack Recipe – Maple Cinnamon Glazed Pecans

National Pecan Day is this weekend and a great way to celebrate this nut is with a healthy, protein-packed pecan recipe. Our guest blogger Erin from Food Wise Family is here to share a wonderfully crunchy yet sweet snack that you don’t feel guilty about indulging in.

My maple cinnamon glazed pecans are a delightful way to honor the delicious pecan. Not only is this recipe super simple, but it makes your house smell amazing. I know I can’t resist the smell of maple and cinnamon welcoming me when I walk in the door.

These glazed pecans don’t last long in our house. My most recent batch only lasted a little more than 24 hours. It’s really hard not to eat more than one. They are addicting!

 

This tasty little snack is sweetened by just a little bit of maple syrup, keeping it paleo.

This not only makes a great snack, but is also a great topper for salads, if you want to add some crunch. Plus, the pecan is heart healthy, full of vitamins and minerals, and packed with fiber.

Maple Cinnamon Glazed Pecans
Prep Time: 5 Minutes
Baking Time: 45 Minutes
Total Time: 50 Minutes

Ingredients
2.5 cups raw pecans
1 egg white
2 tbsp maple syrup
1/2 tbsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp vanilla
1/4 tsp nutmeg
1/8 tsp salt

glazed pecans bake

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 250°.
  2. In a medium-sized mixing bowl, whisk egg white for about one to two minutes until it is frothy.
  3. Add maple syrup, cinnamon, vanilla, nutmeg, and salt to the egg white mixture and mix well.
  4. Pour the pecans into the egg mixture and stir until well-coated.
  5. Spread mixture evenly on a parchment-lined baking sheet.
  6. Bake for 45 minutes. Stir the mixture every 15 minutes while baking.
  7. Remove from the oven, and let cool for 5 minutes.

Recipe Note:
Looking to make more? This recipe for maple cinnamon glazed pecans can easily be doubled. Just make sure when you are baking it, that the there is enough room on your baking sheet for the glazed pecans to be spread out evenly.

I believe that the food we put on the table should not only be healthy, but easy and full of flavor. Check out my website foodwisefamily.com for more wholesome recipes.

Love pecans and looking for a sinfully delicious dessert? See our blog for Chocolate Bourbon Pecan Pie!

Matcha Chia Pudding Recipe

Matcha Chia Pudding Recipe

Whether it’s St. Patrick’s Day or any other day, here’s a little bit of green to start your morning. Our guest blogger, Erin over at Food Wise Family, has a creamy treat perfect for matcha lovers – it’s called Matcha Chia Pudding!

Matcha is a finely ground powder of high-grade green tea. Unlike normal tea where you steep the leaves, with matcha you are consuming the whole leaf. Matcha has more caffeine than black tea, but less than coffee.

Chia seeds are tiny seeds that retain a large amount of water. That’s why they are great in pudding, because they soak up all the delicious coconut milk in this recipe, creating a texture similar to tapioca pudding. Since they soak up at least 10x their weight, it’s best to eat chia seeds soaked, like in a pudding, so they don’t absorb the water in your body. These tiny seeds are a great source of fiber, protein, calcium, and omega-3s.

Chia seeds tend to soak up whatever flavors you pair with them, so this matcha chia seed pudding is a balanced blend of creamy coconut and the refreshing earthy notes of matcha.

While this matcha chia pudding is far from being Irish, this tasty little goody is a great alternative to enjoying a cup of matcha. I’m not giving up my morning coffee any time soon, but every once in a while I love to indulge in a cup of matcha. This vibrant green wonder is full of antioxidants and just the right amount of caffeine.

With my love for coconut milk chia pudding, it was a no-brainer for me to combine it with matcha.

This matcha chia pudding takes just minutes to prep and requires only four ingredients. Plus it’s dairy-free and paleo!

Matcha Chia Pudding Recipe

Prep Time: 5 Minutes
Chill Time: 1 hour to overnight
Servings: 4

Ingredients
13.5 oz can full-fat coconut milk
6 tablespoons chia seeds
2 – 3 tablespoons maple syrup (or honey)*
2 teaspoons matcha

Instructions

  1. Empty a can of coconut milk into a mixing cup and blend for a few seconds using an immersion blender.**
  2. Place remaining ingredients in the coconut milk and mix thoroughly.
  3. Spoon the matcha chia pudding into separate serving containers and cover.
  4. Refrigerate for at least an hour before enjoying. For the best flavor and for chia seeds to fully set, refrigerate several hours or overnight.

Recipe Notes:
*Use more or less sweetener to desired taste.

**You can also use a regular blender, or even just whisk the matcha chia pudding. Just make sure to mix well. If whisking, make sure to mix it immediately after adding the chia seeds. Once the chia seeds get wet, they stick to everything and clump, so it’s best to mix it right away.

I believe that the food we put on the table should not only be healthy, but easy and full of flavor. Check out my website foodwisefamily.com for more wholesome recipes.

Turkey Fried Cauliflower Rice Recipe

Turkey Fried Cauliflower Rice Recipe

Turkey Fried Cauliflower Rice

Erin from Food Wise Family wants to make eating healthy easy. Check out this simple yet delicious turkey fried cauliflower rice recipe…

The new year is usually filled with resolutions. Some are kept and others are easily forgotten, but one common resolution that I agree strongly with is eating healthy. If you are determined enough, you will make it happen, but I think one trick to getting into the habit of eating healthy is finding meals that are quick and easy.  Loaded with protein and packed with veggies, this turkey fried cauliflower rice recipe takes only 30 minutes to whip up. Plus, it utilizes mostly frozen veggies, making prep for this meal complete in only minutes. This quick and wholesome meal creates plenty of leftovers, so lunch is taken care of, too.

Eat What Works For Youturkey fried cauliflower rice ingredients

If you’ve read any of my previous posts on here, you’ll know that I usually share paleo recipes. Not today, but only by a little. This turkey fried cauliflower rice recipe calls for a bag of frozen peas and carrots. Peas are not considered to be paleo because they are legumes. I want to point out that eating healthy also means not boxing yourself in completely to one way of eating. Eat what works for your body. However, if you’re hoping to make this meal completely paleo or you just really hate peas, substitute the peas and carrots for just carrots, or perhaps your favorite frozen veggie combo. Personally, I love peas and love having a meal that is super fast to make. So, yay for frozen peas!

Cooking Oils

I like to cook with virgin coconut oil. One thing to watch for with coconut oil is to not overheat it when you’re cooking. I’ve noticed on my stove the hottest I can go with it is medium heat, but your stove might be different. If your virgin coconut oil starts to smoke, it’s too hot. So adjust your temperature if needed.  Another good fat to cook this meal with is ghee, which is clarified butter. Ghee has a higher smoke point than virgin coconut oil or even butter, and it is a good substitute for anyone who is lactose intolerant but likes cooking with butter. The process of making ghee removes the majority of the lactose, plus ghee contains several healthy fatty acids and is rich in nutrients. Make sure you use grass-fed ghee.turkey fried cauliflower rice

This turkey fried cauliflower rice calls for coconut aminos – a soy-free and gluten-free alternative to soy sauce. It is produced from coconut tree sap and sea salt and is packed with amino acids and minerals.

However, if you are a soy sauce type of person, feel free to use soy sauce instead.

Turkey Fried Cauliflower Rice

  • Prep Time: 5 minutes
  • Cooking Time: 25 minutes
  • Total Time: 30 minutes

Ingredients

  • 2 lbs ground turkey
  • 2 tbsp virgin coconut oil, or ghee
  • 1 large white onion, diced
  • 1 bag frozen peas and carrots (10 oz)
  • 2 bags frozen cauliflower rice (12 oz each)
  • 1 tsp virgin coconut oil, or ghee
  • 2 large eggs, lightly beaten
  • 4 tbsp coconut aminos
  • 1/4 tsp salt, or to taste
  • 1/4 tsp pepper, or to taste

Instructions

  1. In a skillet or sauté pan, cook ground turkey.
  2. While the turkey cooks, heat coconut oil, or ghee, over medium heat in a large skillet or sauté pan. Sauté diced onion until translucent (about 5 minutes).
  3. Add peas and carrots and cauliflower rice to the cooked onions and stir in thoroughly.  Cook until heated through while stirring occasionally (about 10 minutes). If your veggies have a lot of excess water, cook a few minutes longer to reduce the amount of liquid in the pan.
  4. In the center of the pan, create an empty space by pushing all the veggies to the side of the pan. Turn the heat to medium-low and add one teaspoon of coconut oil or ghee. Once melted, add the beaten eggs. Using a spatula, scramble the egg. Once the eggs are a little over halfway cooked, stir thoroughly into the veggie mixture.
  5. Combine cooked turkey, coconut aminos, salt, and pepper in the veggie mixture and stir well.turkey fried cauliflower rice

Recipe Note: This is great served by itself, or if you want to add a kick to it, this tastes amazing with hot sauce.

I believe that the food we put on the table should not only be healthy, but easy and full of flavor. Check out my website foodwisefamily.com for more wholesome recipes.

Interested in learning more about healthy oils? Read our blog Healthy Oils For A Healthy You.

Homemade Paleo Cranberry Sauce Recipe

Homemade Paleo Cranberry Sauce Recipe

Erin, our guest blogger over at Food Wise Family, has a healthy cranberry sauce recipe that is sure to be your new holiday favorite!

Whether you are cooking Thanksgiving dinner for the whole family, or you are just bringing a side dish for the upcoming holiday, homemade cranberry sauce is the way to go. Skip the canned stuff and buy some fresh cranberries instead. This dish is perfect for making the day before and grabbing from the fridge just in time for dinner.

Cut Out the Refined Sugar
I can’t have a turkey dinner without cranberry sauce, but when I started eating paleo I wanted a cranberry sauce that wasn’t full of refined sugar. So, I adapted this recipe from my mom’s that she makes every holiday.

To make this cranberry sauce recipe paleo, I removed all the refined sugar and replaced with real maple syrup.

I chose maple syrup because that’s something we always have in the house; however, you can substitute the maple syrup with honey or coconut sugar. If you use coconut sugar, make sure it completely dissolves before adding the cranberries.

Paleo Cranberry Sauce

Prep Time: 5 minutes
Cooking Time: 15 minutes
Total Time: 20 minutes

Ingredients
Juice and zest of 1 orange
1/2 – 3/4 cup of real maple syrup*
1 small piece (about 1 inch in size) of fresh ginger, peeled and grated
3 cups of fresh cranberries

Instructions
1. In a large saucepan, combine orange juice, orange zest, maple syrup, and ginger. Simmer for about 5 minutes, while stirring often.
2. Bring to a gentle boil on medium heat and stir in cranberries. Cook, stirring occasionally, until cranberries pop and the sauce starts to thicken (about 10 minutes).
3. Let cool and place in a storage container. Refrigerate until serving time.

*Recipe Note: Use 1/2 cup of maple syrup for a more tart cranberry sauce, or use 3/4 cup of maple syrup for a sweeter version. Personally, I enjoy a tart cranberry sauce!

Cranberry Sauce steps

I believe that the food we put on the table should not only be healthy, but easy and full of flavor. Check out my website foodwisefamily.com for more wholesome recipes.

See more of Erin’s recipes on our Butcher Block Co. Blog:

Make Your Own Pumpkin Spice

Super Moist Gluten Free Banana Bread Recipe

Try Our Recipe For Easy Grilled Sweet Potatoes

 

Try Our Recipe For Easy Grilled Sweet Potatoes

Try Our Recipe For Easy Grilled Sweet Potatoes

I would like to introduce you to our newest guest blogger, Erin Higgs, who is a food blogger at Food Wise Family. She creates wholesome, delicious paleo recipes with a focus on family, and she will be contributing to our blog monthly. When Erin is not in the kitchen or writing, you can find her playing peekaboo with her toddler. We hope you enjoy her first, of many, blog recipes!

The long weekend celebrating Labor Day is almost here. I imagine you probably already have an idea of what meat you’re grilling up for the holiday, whether it is a juicy hamburger or some tasty chicken kabobs, so I’m here to talk about making a side dish.

A side dish should be appetizing, but simple. With only five ingredients and quick prep, easy grilled sweet potatoes fit both of these standards.

Easy Cleanup
One of my favorite parts about grilling is the cleanup, or should I say the absence of cleanup. There is no messing with pots and pans. This sweet potato side dish is entirely cooked in an aluminum foil packet, making cleanup a cinch. I double up the aluminum foil to make sure there is no break in the foil packet while cooking.

Sweet Potatoes Are Amazing
We cook sweet potatoes a lot in our house, and there is no exception when it comes to grilling. This nutrient-rich vegetable is not only versatile when it comes to cooking, but also just absolutely delicious. For this recipe, I leave the skin on the sweet potatoes, but you can certainly peel them before cubing them if you prefer.

Easy Grilled Sweet Potatoes Prep
Prep Time: 10 Minutes
Grilling Time: 30 Minutes
Total Time: 40 Minutes

Ingredients:
2 large sweet potatoes, washed and cubed
2 tablespoons extra virgin coconut oil (melted) or olive oil
1 teaspoon smoked paprika
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
1/2 teaspoon sea salt

* Other spices to consider are sweet paprika, cinnamon and rosemary.

Instructions
1. Place two large sheets of aluminum foil on top of each other.
2. Position the sweet potatoes in the center of the aluminum foil, while keeping plenty of room to fold the foil up. Bring the sides of the aluminum foil up and lightly fold at the top. (Make sure it’s a light fold because we will be opening this back up in the next step.) Tightly bunch both ends of the foil.
3. Open the foil up at the top. Add oil and spices to the potatoes and gently stir to coat the potatoes. Firmly refold the aluminum foil on the top.
4. Place sweet potato foil packet on a hot grill and close the lid.
5. Cook for 30 minutes, or until sweet potatoes are soft. Remove foil packet from the grill with tongs.
6. Allow sweet potatoes to slightly cool and serve directly from the foil packet.

sweet potatoes cubed

spiced sweet potatoes

I believe that the food we put on the table should not only be healthy, but easy and full of flavor. Check out my website foodwisefamily.com for more wholesome recipes.

Roasted Cauliflower Rice Recipe

Roasted Cauliflower Rice Recipe

The cauliflower rice craze continues to spread and I love it.  Touted as the new kale, it remains a trendy and healthy veggie often prepared as a substitute for rice in recipes. It has also found its rightful place as an alternative ingredient in many gluten-free recipes and even pizza crust!

I am pretty happy preparing it as an alternative to rice, as I attempt to avoid bad carbs and stick with healthy veggies instead. Like rice, the cauliflower morsels will soak up the flavor of the surrounding seasonings making it very flavorful. There is nothing too fancy about this recipe, but everyone needs a tried and true recipe now and then, and this roasted cauliflower rice can be made just how you like it. Best of all, it is not mushy because instead of it being sautéed in a pan, you roast it in the oven to the desired crispness!

Ingredients

  • 1 bag (16 oz.) – Cauliflower Rice
  • ¼ cup – Garlic Infused Olive Oil or use whatever flavor you like!
  • Fresh Tarragon
  • Salt & Pepper
  • 1 lemon juiced

Preparation

Preheat to 425 degrees convection roast. For those of you who are true cooking enthusiasts, you may want to make your own cauliflower rice by ricing the florets in your food processor. But if you are like me and looking for the easy route, use the already riced Cauliflower you can find at Costco and other stores.

In mixing bowl, combine cauliflower rice, infused olive oil (Trader Joe’s), salt and pepper. Stir. Spread the mixture on a foiled cookie sheet. Roast in the oven for 15 minutes, then stir it around a bit. If you like crispy cauliflower rice, continue to roast to desired crispness. Take it out of the oven and add 2T chopped fresh tarragon to the top.  Fresh tarragon is really worth it, so make the extra effort to purchase it. Transfer your roasted cauliflower rice to a serving bowl and add the juice of 1 lemon and stir. Serve.

I like to double the recipe so that I have extra available to add to other goodies I find in my fridge. I will add it to other roasted vegetables, or add some rotisserie chicken to it to create another meal. I even mix it in with my less trendy kale salad!

Kitchen Tips – How To Clean Butcher Block

Kitchen Tips – How To Clean Butcher Block

I have admitted this before…I am actually one of those people who enjoys cleaning!  I find the process to be relaxing and almost cathartic. And for me it is very rewarding because I can usually see a huge difference in a short amount of time – instant gratification so to speak! While most people don’t enjoy it the way I do, I would guess that nearly everyone would admit that after they are done cleaning they feel better, maybe “lighter,” happier, or just plain glad it is over.

Springtime brings with it a new energy. A zestfulness. And for many, the willpower to tackle some household chores that they have been putting off during the winter season. For us at Butcher Block Co., springtime is a good time to remind our customers how to take care of their Butcher Block investment.

So, let’s review some best practices and how to clean butcher block cutting boards, standing blocks, tables or countertops…

Daily Cleaning – Clean butcher block after every use.

  • Scrape – Gently remove any food particles with a scraper or spatula. If you happen to have a varnish surface, remove food particles with a sponge so as not to scratch the surface (remember, you shouldn’t be cutting directly on a varnish finish).
  • Wash – To clean butcher block, wipe the surface with a clean wash cloth dipped in hot water and mild dish soap. Rinse the wash cloth and wipe the butcher block again. (Never submerge your butcher block in water).
  • Dry – Using a paper towel or dish towel, dry the surface of your butcher block thoroughly. Store your cutting boards on edge to dry both sides completely, and to save counter space.

Deodorizing – Keep your butcher block smelling fresh.

  • Neutralize odors before they arise.
  • Fill a spray bottle with white vinegar.
  • From time to time, after you prepare food on your butcher block, clean the butcher block then spray vinegar onto it.
  • Allow it to stand for a least 30 seconds before rinsing and drying.

 Disinfecting – Occasionally disinfect your butcher block, especially after prepping raw meat, fish or poultry.

  • Clean butcher block first following the steps above.
  • It’s necessary to kill germs, not just reduce their count. You’ll need a disinfecting solution that destroys ALL microbes in 10 minutes.
  • Use a 3 percent hydrogen peroxide. You can blend your own solution using 35% food-grade hydrogen peroxide by mixing one part with 11 parts of water.
  • Pour the hydrogen peroxide onto the butcher block, spread it around using a clean sponge or cloth and let it stand for 10 minutes.
  • Rinse the solution off of the butcher block surface by wiping with a clean, wet cloth. Then dry the butcher block thoroughly with a paper towel or dish cloth.
  • Follow the steps below to moisturize your butcher block.

Moisturizing – Butcher Block with an oil finish needs to be re-oiled to keep it from drying and cracking.

  • At least once a month (more often if used heavily), oil your butcher block.
  • Use a food-grade mineral oil like John Boos Mystery Oil. Apply the oil with a plastic grocery bag, spreading the oil over all surfaces. Let the oil stand over night to penetrate the wood.
  • The next morning, wipe off any excess oil using a paper towel.
  • Whereas oil penetrates the surface of wood to moisturize it, a good board cream will leave a silky, wax barrier. Seal in the moisture with John Boos Board Cream. Apply the cream over the butcher block like you would apply a moisturizing lotion. Let it sit for a few hours or over night. Wipe off any excess with a paper towel.
  • Note – Butcher Block with a varnish surface does not need to be moisturized with oil or cream.

These helpful tips are applicable any time of year, not just springtime. So remember to clean butcher block to keep it healthy and to protect your investment. All it takes is a little tender loving butcher block care.  For more information, check out our Complete Butcher Block Care and Repair Guide.

Lighten Up with Grilled Salad

Lighten Up with Grilled Salad

This grilled salad is killing me. I want to eat it right now, exactly as Claire has made it. I can’t even come up with words for how perfect this looks, so I’m just going to pass the tongs to Claire now so that you all can join me in drooling. Fire it up, Claire!

Like most people, I love cooking out on the grill. I don’t have a great grill, but I do have a little fire table with a grilling surface, and it does the job just fine for my postage-stamp of a back yard. Right now, my town is experiencing prime grilling weather. It’s summery enough that I’ve been thinking a lot about hamburgers lately, but it’s not so hot yet that I’m sweating through my shirt as soon as I step outside. I’ve been smelling BBQ smells in the neighborhood, and it’s got me primed. I’m pretty excited for this summer’s inaugural meal off the grill, but I think I’d like to keep it on the lighter side. My husband has been a little sick, so I’ve been ladling chicken soup down his throat for the last five days, and it seems a little extreme to go right from broth to burgers. Besides, I really need some roughage in my diet after soup week, if you know what I mean. Anyhoo…

A couple of years ago, my best friend took me out to dinner at this super swanky restaurant for my birthday. There were so many things on the menu we wanted to try, we decided to just order them all and split them, tapas style. We must have tried a dozen different things, but try as I might, I can’t recall a single one of them except the grilled salad. It was a full romaine heart, halved lengthwise and grilled. They topped it with some kind of balsamic and little crunchy things. We were so surprised by the grilled lettuce; it seemed so novel to us! In retrospect, it seems so obvious. I mean, grilled veggies are sort of notorious for being awesome. So are grilled fruits, and grilled everything else, for that matter, which brings me to this week’s recipe.

A grilled salad is the perfect transition into summer fare.

Grilled Salad

The best thing about grilling out is that the food gets so much flavor from the grill, there is barely any prep involved. The flip side of that is, because you’re not doing much to dress it up, the quality of the food you start with will be reflected in the meal you end with, so start with the good stuff. When I got to the store, I already knew I wanted to do a grilled salad, but I believe in letting the groceries direct the meal, so I also got some shrimp and apricots. It’s still a little early for stone fruit, but I caught a whiff of these as I was walking past the display, and they just really called to me.

Grilled Salad

For the salad’s base, simply slice the lettuce lengthwise, drizzle or brush a little olive oil on the sliced side, and place them on the grill. Repeat with the apricots, slicing from top to bottom and removing the pits. With the produce, you’re not trying to cook the food through. You just want to get a light char and imbue it with that good smoky flavor.

Grilled SaladFor the shrimp, skewer them, drizzle them with olive oil, and then give them a good hit of salt and pepper. Don’t put too many shrimp on a single skewer, and don’t crowd them, or they won’t cook evenly. With a high heat cooking source like an open grill, they will cook quickly, so probably no more than 30 seconds per side. You want them just barely opaque.

Grilled Salad

To dress your grilled salad, you can go premade, but I like to pull out my food processor and whip something up. In this case, I’m going with basically an eggless Caesar dressing. A spoonful of Dijon mustard, a generous pour of sherry, a couple glugs of extra virgin olive oil, two or three cloves of garlic, the juice of one lemon, a good heap of Parmesan, a few grinds of pepper, and five anchovy fillets. Whir it all together until it’s smooth, lightly dress the lettuce, and top with your favorite salad fixings. Serve it with a good bottle of chilled white wine, and dig in. This grilled salad is a joyful herald of a season of good eating and I can’t wait to get down to it!

Grilled Salad

What’s Trendy? Low-Carb Veggie Noodles!

What’s Trendy? Low-Carb Veggie Noodles!

Veggie Noodles are the latest trend in the food world, and I’ve got to admit, I kind of love it. I LOVE vegetables, and I’ve been using spaghetti squash as an occasional pasta substitute for years. With the introduction of the spiralizer, I can now make noodles out of zucchini and other squashes, carrots, and just about any other firm veggie! You don’t have to use it as pasta, though. Another great way to use veggie noodles is to simply prepare them as a side dish. Sautéed in a little butter or olive oil with garlic and salt, they make a great addition to any meal. This is one trend I’m happy to jump on board with! Lucky for you, Sarah W. is also a spiralizer fan, and has a spectacular zucchini noodle and meatballs recipe to share with us. This one is particularly friendly if you are on a low-carb diet. Take it away, Sarah!

I have a foodie confession to make: I am not a huge fan of Italian food. Pasta has never been a religious experience for me the way that it seems it should when gauging my social media feeds. (I am fully aware that Italian food consists of more than PASTA, and have indeed eaten my share of other dishes. All are quite good! It’s just not my favorite food genre.) People. Love. Pasta. I am not a finicky eater, but when I go out to eat, I prefer to order something I couldn’t easily make at home, and when I’m cooking at home, my comfort spices include chili powder, thyme, cumin, and hot sauce.

That being said, whenever I picture cooking in the kitchen, it stems from the image of someone’s Italian grandma making sauce and noodles from scratch, stirring a bubbling pot smelling of garlic and love. To me and my fanciful brain, that’s traditional cooking. I just don’t do very much of it myself. So for this week’s blog, I decided to push myself back to basics and see if I could modern it up without being too crazy. The current trend of veggie noodles seemed like a good compromise.

We recently had our neighbors over for dinner, and they are pasta fanatics. I knew I wanted to make something at least Italian-inspired that would also be flexible enough for my current gluten-avoidance. Some Googling led me to this awesome recipe for Lasagna Meatballs, which I adapted and served with a choice of zucchini noodles or traditional pasta in fun shapes. I got a yield of 40 meatballs, which, including sauce and cheese, netted me 1.3 carbs per meatball. Not bad for those counting carbs! Your mileage will vary, depending on the cheeses (ricotta and mozzarella both contain carbs) and sauce you find around you, but this is a pretty delicious recipe that can be easily adapted to different diets by changing the base.

In order to make zucchini (or carrot or let-your-imagination-run-wild other vegetable) noodles, you will need a spiralizer. You can julienne your veggies, but they won’t have the same flexibility and movement that a pasta noodle does. I have a small, basic one and it’s served me well. Its size makes it easy to store since I don’t use it very often. Vegetable noodles are really trendy right now, and it’s easy to see why. They’re not labor-intensive; they can be tailored to go with a variety of dishes; they’re visually appealing and a way to get more color on your plate.

I had never made meatballs before, and these are a little wet, by virtue of the ricotta cheese. I skipped the breadcrumbs/flour usually called for in meatballs, and decided to use some extra Parmesan cheese instead. This was a good idea.

Zucchini Noodles with Lasagna Meatballs

  • 1 lb ground beef or turkey (I used turkey)
  • 1 lb sweet or hot Italian sausage (I used sweet)
  • 1 cup ricotta cheese
  • parsley, oregano, garlic, salt, pepper to taste
  • ¾ cup Parmesan cheese, divided
  • 2 cups pasta sauce (I used the lowest carb I could find – 5 carbs per serving)
  • 1-2 roasted red peppers
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 ½ cup mozzarella cheese
  • 3 zucchinis
  • 1-2 tablespoons butter

Preheat oven to 375°.

Combine the sausage, turkey, eggs, ricotta, parsley, oregano, salt, pepper, and garlic to make your meatballs. Dice or finely chop the roasted red pepper and add to the mixture. I found it was best to have some “rings off” time and combine this by hand. At this point, the meatball mixture is very wet.

Add ¼ cup of your Parmesan cheese. If you still don’t like the consistency, add another ¼ cup.

Form 1-2” meatballs and line them up on a large baking sheet. They can be somewhat close together, as they won’t spread while they bake. Pop in the oven for 25 minutes. Bigger meatballs may take more time. As mentioned above, I got 40 meatballs out of one batch.

Grab a baking dish and start loading your meatballs in. I was able to cram all 40 into a 13” x 9” dish. Cover with sauce. Cover that with mozzarella cheese, finishing up with the remaining Parmesan. Cook this for an additional 30 minutes.

Trendy Veggie Noodles

When you have about 20 minutes left on the bake, use the spiralizer to prep your zucchini noodles. These are fairly simple. Trim the ends of your zucchini. Hold the zucchini firmly in the spiralizer and turn so the blades cut the vegetable. This will produce noodle-shaped ribbons. These can be sautéed in a pan over medium heat for 4-5 minutes in butter. Twenty minutes out is a good time to start boiling water if you’d also like to serve pasta as an option.

Trendy Veggie Noodles

I served these to my pasta-fiend neighbors (while calling them “lasagna meatballs”) and got this reaction: “The meatballs themselves don’t seem like they’d be cheesy, but they’re really cheesy!” They were a hit.

Trendy Veggie Noodles

Have you jumped on the veggie noodle trend? What’s your favorite vegetable to use, and how do you prepare it?

Printer-friendly recipe: Zucchini Noodles with Lasagna Meatballs