Easy Avocado Tuna Salad

Hey there! Do you ever come home from work starving? The last thing you want to do is spend half an hour or more waiting for food to cook… On those days, this meal is for you! You probably have most of the ingredients on hand and this tuna salad is not only easy, but also delicious and healthy. The avocado lends creaminess so you can cut back on the amount of mayonnaise you may typically use in a tuna salad. Avocado’s fiber and healthy fats along with the protein in the tuna will keep you full for a few hours until your next meal. Whip this up in 5 minutes or less!

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Ingredients:
1 ripe avocado, medium
2 cans albacore tuna, drained
2 tablespoons mayonnaise
1 teaspoon dijon mustard
1/2 cup finely diced celery
1/4 cup finely diced red onion
Salt, pepper, garlic powder, and parsley (fresh or dried) to taste

Directions:
1. Combine all the ingredients in a large bowl and mash together with a fork until well blended. Serve on toasted whole wheat bread, wedges of fresh pell pepper, or in leaves of butter lettuce.

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Brined Turkey

When Colby and I moved into the new house, we had to learn a few things about homeownership. First of all, it turns out you have to pay a water bill. I didn’t really think about it since water was included in our rent at the apartment before. I figured we paid for a few months of water in our closing costs. NOPE. Found out the hard way when we came home to our water shut off a couple of days ago. Taking a shower just isn’t the same when you have to use a water bottle. But hey, I guess we got 2 weeks of free water out of it before they shut it off!

Another thing I discovered is that our new fridge, while beautiful, does not accommodate a 21 lb frozen turkey in the freezer drawer. So it’s Thanksgiving in February, everyone!

I followed my dad’s favorite roasted turkey recipe to cook the bird. He always said the recipe is “top-secret,” but after I asked very nicely for the secret recipe, he sent me a link to Alton Brown’s Roasted Turkey Recipe from Food Network.

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Not surprisingly, it’s amazing. Alton Brown is the coolest, nerdiest chef on Food Network. I trust that every recipe he creates is perfect down to a science.

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Photo credit goes to Simply Recipes this time. I roasted the turkey on a weeknight… in the middle of the night. When it was finally done at 3am, the last thing I wanted to do was take pictures. I just wanted to eat that delicious crispy skin and go to bed.

Ingredients:
1 (14 to 16 pound) frozen young turkey – Mine was 21 lbs, and I didn’t have to change the recipe

For the brine:
1 cup kosher salt
1/2 cup light brown sugar
1 gallon vegetable stock
1 tablespoon black peppercorns
1 1/2 teaspoons allspice berries
1 1/2 teaspoons candied ginger
1 gallon heavily iced water

For the aromatics:
1 red apple, sliced
1/2 onion, sliced
1 cinnamon stick
1 cup water
4 sprigs rosemary
6 leaves sage
canola oil

Directions:
1. 2-3 days before roasting, thaw the turkey in the refrigerator. Combine the vegetable stock, salt, peppercorns, allspice berries, and candied ginger in a large stock pot over medium-high heat. Stir occasionally to dissolve solids and bring to a boil. Remove the brine from the heat, cool to room temperature, and refrigerate.

2. Early on the day or the night before you want to eat, combine the brine, water, and ice in a 5 gallon bucket. Place the thawed turkey (with innards removed) breast side down in the brine. If necessary, weigh down the bird to ensure it is fully immersed, cover, and refrigerate or set in a cool area for 8-16 hours, turning the bird once half way through brining.

3. Preheat the oven to 500 degrees F. Remove the bird from the brine and rinse inside and out with cold water. Discard the brine.

4. Place the bird on a roasting rack inside a half sheet pan and pat dry with paper towels.

5. Combine the apple, onion, cinnamon stick, and 1 cup of water in a microwave safe dish and microwave on high for 5 minutes. Add steeped aromatics to the turkey’s cavity along with the rosemary and sage. Tuck the wings underneath the bird and coat the skin liberally with canola oil.

6. Roast the turkey on the lowest level of the oven at 500 degrees F for 30 minutes. Insert a probe thermometer into the thickest part of the breast and reduce the oven temperature to 350 degrees F. Set the thermometer alarm (if available) to 161 degrees F. A 14-16 pound bird should require a total of 2 – 2 1/2 hours of roasting. My 21 pound bird took about 3 hours. Let the turkey rest, loosely covered with foil or a large mixing bowl, for 15 minutes before carving.

You’re going to love this turkey! It’s tender, juicy, and flavorful. I’m sure I’ll be brining all my poultry from now on!

Zucchini and Sausage Medallions

When I was a kid, I could eat 20 Pizza Rolls in a single sitting and still be hungry. I’m sure I could still do that, but I would probably feel sick to my stomach afterward. Here’s a healthier way to indulge in bite-sized pizza -like snacks! These zucchini medallions are delicious and filling. A single zucchini and link of chicken sausage make 20 mini “pizza bites.”

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Ingredients:
1 zucchini
1 fully cooked chicken sausage link (I used Casual Gourmet red pepper and spinach sausage)
1/4 cup finely shredded cheese (I used Colby jack)
1/3 cup marinara sauce (I used La Victoria brand)

Instructions:

1. Slice the zucchini into 1/4″ thick slices, or about 20 pieces. If you’re in a hurry or really hungry, save time by cutting the zucchini lengthwise into 4-5 strips instead.

2. Broil the zucchini on a baking sheet for 2-3 minutes, then flip the slices and broil for 2-3 minutes more on the other side.

3. While the zucchini slices are broiling, slice the sausage link carefully into 20 slices. If you’re making zucchini strips, you can just cut the sausage into 4-5 strips lengthwise instead.

4. Top each medallion or zucchini strip with a thin layer of marinara sauce, a sprinkling of cheese, and a slice of chicken sausage.

5. Broil for 2 minutes more, or until the sausage is heated through and cheese is bubbly. Serve immediately and enjoy!

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Look at all that food! All for under 300 calories and ready in less than 15 minutes.

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I hope you’ll enjoy this healthy alternative to Pizza Rolls and Bagel Bites as much as I did! I had them for dinner a few nights in a row since zucchini was only a dollar a pound at the grocery store.

Grain Free Pizza Sauté

Do you crave pizza as much as I do? Last week Colby baked a frozen pizza and tried to hide it from me. He knows how bloated and miserable I get when I eat it, but he also knows how much I love it! When I came home, the whole apartment smelled of my favorite food. Colby urged me to cook something else instead of searching the fridge for the leftover pizza. Here’s what I came up with:

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This sauté of turkey, bell peppers, spinach, onion, and marinara sauce topped with shredded cheese really hit the spot. It was quick and easy to make, which is key when you’re craving pizza fiercely!

Ingredients:
4-6 oz lean ground turkey
1 tbs olive oil
1 tbs dried Italian herbs
1/2 onion, diced
1/2 red bell pepper, diced
Large handful of spinach
1/2 cup good marinara sauce
2 tbs shredded parmesan or mozzarella (exclude if strict paleo)

1. Brown the turkey in a skillet, breaking it up into little chunks with a spatula. Once cooked through (no longer pink inside), set aside.
2. In the same skillet, heat olive oil. Add the diced onion and bell peppers. Sauté until tender, about 5 minutes.
3. Add the spinach and stir until wilted. Add the Italian herbs, ground turkey, and marinara sauce. Cook until heated through.
4. Serve with a sprinkling of cheese!

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While it’s not quite pizza, the flavors are spot on and the protein in the turkey will keep you feeling satisfied.

Cabbage with Chicken Sausage and Apples

Are you ready for a hearty autumn meal? This will hit the spot and it’s really easy to make. Cabbage, apples, cider vinegar, and chicken sausage complement each other beautifully in this dish. The lightly sautéed shredded cabbage is reminiscent of noodles- gotta love that!

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Ingredients:
1 fully cooked chicken sausage link (I used apple sausage)
1 small apple
1/2 medium onion
2-3 cups shredded cabbage
1 tbs olive oil
2 tbs apple cider vinegar
Up to 1/4 cup Water, white wine, or chicken broth
Salt, pepper, and sriracha hot sauce to taste

1. Heat olive oil over medium heat in a medium saucepan. Chop apple, onion, and chicken sausage. Add to the oil.
2. Sauté the apple, sausage, and onion for about 5 minutes, or until tender. Add the cabbage and apple cider vinegar.
3. Stir the cabbage around in the pot until it begins to cook down. Cover the saucepan and reduce heat.
4. Stir the cabbage every few minutes to make sure it doesn’t burn. Add water, white wine, or chicken broth as needed.
5. After about 10-15 minutes, the cabbage should be tender. Season to taste and serve!

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Quick and easy meals are the way to go now that it gets dark so early. I just want to curl up near the fireplace by the time I get home from work, so dishes like this are wonderful. Enjoy!

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Yellow Squash Noodles with Pesto and Turkey

Have a healthy, easy meal on the table in minutes with this simple recipe! Spaghetti squash, zucchini, and yellow squash all taste wonderful with pesto sauce. Add a little ground turkey for protein and you’re ready to dig in!

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ingredients:
4 oz ground turkey
2 small summer squash
1/4 c pesto (I like the one at Trader Joe’s)
1 tbs shredded parmesan

1. Spiralize the summer squash, or use a vegetable peeler to make noodles out of it.
2. Brown the ground turkey in a skillet.
3. Add the summer squash and pesto to the skillet and mix until heated through. Serve with shredded parmesan.

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I love this easy, lazy meal! If you cook a pound or more of ground turkey at once, you can keep it in the fridge for several days to make this meal even faster to put together.

Frisée Salad with Warm Bacon Dressing and Poached Egg

My expert gourmet sister said this is called a lyonnaise salad. She also pointed out that the lettuce I used wasn’t actually frisée, but whatever I used turned out pretty tasty!

I got (what I thought was) frisée lettuce in my bountiful basket yesterday and had no idea how to use it. After googling recipe ideas, I learned that frisée is best with warm, savory dressings. The recipe I ended up using comes from epicurious.com. You can read it here.

I followed every step exactly- I tore the lettuce into bite sized pieces.

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I cooked some delicious uncured Black Forest bacon cut into 1/4″ pieces.

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I finished the hot dressing with shallots and red wine vinegar.

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The part I was most excited about was successfully poaching an egg to top the salad with! The instructions in the recipe are very helpful.

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I don’t usually love salads, but this beast is SO GOOD! I will definitely be making this bacon salad again and again. It’s gluten and grain free and very simple to put together once you get the hang of poaching eggs. It would be delicious without the egg, too.

Creamy Chicken Pasta

I had to make this recipe a second time to share with you. I didn’t take any pictures or write anything down the first time around because I had no idea it would be this good! This pasta sauce is perfect over zucchini noodles or short pasta.

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Ingredients:
1/2 onion, sliced
2 cups sliced cremini mushrooms
1 tbs olive oil
1/2 tbs minced garlic
1 tbs butter
2 tbs flour
1/2 cup chicken broth
1/2 cup white wine
2 tbs cream cheese
1 cup shredded chicken (rotisserie)
Several slices diced salami (optional)
2 tsp dried thyme
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp black pepper
Freshly shredded parmesan
(2 zucchini, spiralized or 2 cups cooked pasta)

Directions:
1. Heat olive oil in a large skillet and add sliced onions. Sauté for a couple of minutes before adding mushrooms and garlic.

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2. When the vegetables begin to soften, push them to the side of the frying pan. Melt butter in the pan and add the flour. Mix together to form the roux.

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3. Add chicken broth and white wine. Stir all the vegetables into the sauce and simmer to thicken.

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4. Add cream cheese, chicken, salami, seasonings, and parmesan cheese. Stir to combine and melt.

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5. Serve the sauce over spiralized zucchini or freshly cooked pasta.

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I think you’ll love this dish! The flavors work together elegantly to create a creamy pasta sauce that you’ll be glad you stayed home for! It beats most restaurant pasta sauces I’ve tried. Let me know what you think of it.

Barley Protein Pudding

Do you love rice pudding? If you do, you’ll enjoy this healthy twist on the classic dessert! Barley is chewy and packed with protein and fiber. Coupled with the creaminess of milk and nutmeg, this pudding is a winner!

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ingredients:
1 cup dry barley
2.5 cups water
1/4 tsp salt
2 cups lowfat milk (or soy milk)
1 scoop vanilla whey isolate
1/4 tsp nutmeg
1 cinnamon stick
2 tsp brown sugar
Stevia to taste

1. Bring water and salt to a boil in a medium saucepan. Add the barley and reduce to a simmer. Cook covered for about 30 minutes. (You can do this step in a rice cooker)

2. Add milk and all remaining ingredients to the saucepan. Bring to a boil and reduce to a simmer. Stir frequently for about 15 minutes or until most of the liquid is absorbed.

3. Remove the cinnamon stick and serve! Makes 4 servings.

Nutrition per serving:

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Enjoy this pudding as a hearty breakfast cereal or comforting dessert.

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