Pesto Cauliflower Oats

February is American Heart Month and one of my favorite ways to celebrate is with heart healthy foods like oatmeal! Let’s be real though, oatmeal is one of my favorite weekly breakfasts all year long for so many reasons. Oh, oatmeal, let me count the ways I love thee…

  • Oats contain beta-glucans, which are a unique form of soluble fiber that helps reduce your LDL, the “bad”, cholesterol. This fiber helps reduce your risk of heart attack and stroke, ya’ll!

  • Oats are a complex carbohydrate, meaning they break down and are absorbed more slowly than other refined cereals. This helps prevent blood sugar spikes and energy crashes.

  • Gut health is all the rage, and including oats in your diet helps feed the beneficial bugs in your colon which has far-reaching effects for our larger digestive and immune systems.

  • Oats are versatile and can be cooked up with sweet ingredients, or taken a savory route, which is what I’m showing off today!

If you haven’t given savory oats a go, I highly suggest starting with this pesto-packed bowl.

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Savory Pesto Cauliflower Oats- serves 1

Ingredients

  • 1/2 cup dried rolled oats

  • 1 cup water

  • 1/2 cup steamed riced cauliflower

  • 2 tbsp of your favorite pesto (I’m using a spinach walnut one)

  • Handful of cherry tomatoes, halved

  • 1-2 cooked Good Food Made Simple egg white patties cut into strips (or 1 whole boiled egg with the yolk)

  • Everything But The Bagel Seasoning or just some salt and pepper

Directions

Combine oats, water, and cauliflower in a microwave safe bowl. Microwave for about 2 minutes, add pesto and give it a stir, then cook for another 30-60 seconds or until desired consistency achieved. Carefully remove and top with tomatoes, egg patties or whole egg, and seasoning.


Butternut Squash Risotto Skillet

When your husband says, “THIS belongs in a cookbook!” you know you’ve hit a homerun with dinner. Not only is it great to have your other half’s approval, but it’s even more of a winner in my book when half the dinner is already taken care of before you step into the kitchen.

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When you’re pressed for time, how often to you rely on pre-cut or pre-cooked items? Seeking out shortcuts in the kitchen does not make you LAZY, it makes you SMART! If a ready-made or prepped ingredient helps you to actually cook at home, rather than getting take-out, then I say that’s the smartest move you can do for your health. Food companies are picking up on this trend and catering to the busy mom/dad/young adult professional by creating unique ways to serve and package these convenience items, especially for vegetables. Check to see if your local stores carry items from Mann’s or CeCe’s Veggie Co- they carry some of my favorite dinner savers (p.s. this is totally unsolicted, I just like ‘em!).

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Some of my favorite pre-prepped ingredients are:

  • riced cauliflower

  • shredded brussels sprouts

  • zoodles

  • chopped kale

  • squash or sweet potato zig zags

  • roasted red peppers

  • peeled shrimp, rotisserie chicken, canned beans, and tinned fish

Shredded cabbage is another prepped favorite!

Shredded cabbage is another prepped favorite!

The other night I was ready to throw in the towel and not cook a thing. I was exhausted and had random ingredients at home that were not inspiring me; however, on the other hand, I wanted to use up those ingredients and also couldn’t pinpoint a place I wanted to get food from instead. Classic Casey situation that my husband just looooves. So, a quick decision was made to pick up a rotisserie chicken and the rest was going to figure itself out.

As I got into the kitchen though, the stress from the day melted away. Usually chopping brings me some calm, but my butternut squash zig zags didn’t need much breaking down and the baby kale was pre-bagged from either in the week. So all I had to set about doing was removing the meat from the chicken, and then tend to stirring the risotto. It was nice. Cooking was peaceful. And in the end, my stress from the day was taken care of by something that could’ve caused a world of worry had it not been for my ingredient shortcuts. Plus, this dinner was dang delicious and definitely something I can agree to cook much more often.

What shortcuts do you take in the kitchen?

Butternut Squash Risotto Skillet- serves 2-3

Ingredients

  • 1/2 cup arborio risotto rice

  • 2 garlic cloves, diced

  • 1/4 cup diced yellow onion

  • 4 cups low sodium vegetable stock

  • 2 cups butternut squash zig zags or small diced squash

  • 6 oz. shredded rotisserie chicken

  • 2 large handfuls of baby kale

  • 1/4 cup Parmesan grated and more for garnish

  • Olive oil as needed

Directions

  1. In a medium saucepan add stock and bring to low simmer, then lower the heat to keep the broth hot as you cook the risotto.

  2. In another large, heavy-bottom saucepan add a drizzle of olive oil and once heated add diced onion. Saute for 2-3 minutes, then add garlic and rice. Briskly stir with a wooden spoon so that the grains are coated in the oil, then continue to cook for a minute or two so the grains begin to toast but not burn.

  3. Add a ladle of heated broth to the rice and stir until liquid becomes fully absorbed. When the rice appears almost dry add another ladle, and continue the process one ladle at a time until rice softens, but grains are not crunchy. You’ll want to continue stiring as you add the stock, and the full cooking process takes about 15-20 minutes. Once cooked turn off the heat and set rice aside while you prepare everything else.

  4. To a cast iron skillet add a small amount of olive oil and squash. Saute for about 10-15 minutes until squash softens and browns a bit- the smaller the pieces, the quicker they will cook through.

  5. To the cooked squash add shredded chicken and kale. Mix everything with a wooden spoon to heat chicken and wilt kale. Once everything is cooked and heated through add risotto and grated parmesan to the skillet. Give everything a few turns to combine together. To serve, divide into bowls and top with extra parmesan.

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Almond Butter and Spice Roasted Carrots

Have you ever had a dish out at a restaurant that immediately makes you want to try to recreate it at home? Maybe that’s just how my foodie brain works, but it’s where some of our home-run dishes get their inspiration from!

When Danny and I were dating, some of the experiences that helped to open his eyes and taste buds up to trying new foods the most was dining out. Whether it was on a date with me, lunch with his co-workers or bosses, or dinner with the future-in-laws, he was much more apt to giving something a bite in these settings. Yes, restaurant food has the added benefit of copious amounts of fat and salt added to make most anything taste out of this world, but it’s a start! Take a dish from a restaurant that was pleasing and run with it by cooking it at home, but adding a healthy, yet still very tasty, twist on it.

I went out to dinner with some girlfriends a few weeks ago and we shared a dish that I immediately thought, “Danny would love this and it would be another way to spice up carrots!” I was right on the money and Danny did in fact love my take on this restaurant-inspired vegetable side.

I promise you, the combination of nut butter and carrot is not as odd as you think!

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Almond Butter and Spice Roasted Carrots- serves 2 as a side dish

Ingredients

  • 2 large whole carrots, cleaned well and diced into 1-inch coins

  • 1 tbsp olive oil

  • 4 tbsp crunchy almond butter

  • 2 tsp thinly sliced fresh red chile pepper

  • Juice from half of one lime

  • Sea salt to finish

Directions

  1. Heat oven to 400 degrees. Clean and diced carrots into 1-inch coins. Toss with olive oil and spread in a flat layer on a foiled lined baking tray. Roast for 25 minutes or until carrots begin to brown and caramelize on the edges. Remove and place in a mixing bowl.

  2. To the carrots add almond butter, chiles, and lime juice. Use a spoon to gently toss so that the almond butter evenly coats the carrots. To serve, sprinkle with a finish of chunky sea salt and enjoy.