skillet meal

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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Breakfast Chilaquiles

Have you ever met a dietitian that would tell you it’s okay to eat chips for breakfast? Well, this dietitian is telling you just that and I’m going to share with you why I believe all foods fit, including chips, to start the day.

Photo credit: Pinterest

Photo credit: Pinterest

I work with a lot of patients whose doctors rattle off a list of foods they should “never” eat and foods that are “bad” no matter when or how they are eaten. While I do discuss the impact of excessive amounts of added sugars with my patients with diabetes, I also discuss with them the many ways to include other forms of carbohydrates (which ultimately turn into sugar) in a mindful and healthy way that doesn’t lead to a cycle of restriction and then overeating.

Let’s take chips, for example. If a patient were to walk in munching on a bag of Tostito’s flour tortilla chips, rather than scold them for having a food that will spike their blood sugars, frankly, quite high and rather quickly, I use this as an opportunity to first do a little digging as to WHY they chose that snack, and then secondly maybe we do an educational activity investigating the nutrition label.

Understanding someone’s reasoning behind a food choice reveals SO much about how they comfort themselves, deal with stress, what their finances are, or what their knowledge of a food’s physiological impact is. Many of my patients tell me they love chips because they are salty and crunchy- the same reasons I do! But then they follow that statement with, “I don’t know why I eat chips, I’m not even hungry and I know it’s not good for my blood sugar.” That’s where some mindful nutrition comes into play. Maybe if we compare a nutrition facts label of these tortilla chips, with say an option that is higher in fiber and protein, they might see that there are other ways to satisfy their salty craving while keeping their health in mind! And while finding a healthier food alternative is great, I also don’t ignore the need to possibly find other ways to cope with boredom, but that’s for another time…

This isn’t only a practice I recommend for my patients living with diabetes- it’s a balance I believe we can all find! Yes, there’s going to be some times where the classic chip is the only thing you want, but I can bet that discovering a healthy alternative that’s just as tasty would be a welcome addition to your way of eating.

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I’m walking the talk and putting this healthful balance into action with these breakfast chilaquiles made with Beanfields Snacks chips. They graciously sent me a care package of some products to try and I am totally digging these plant-based, vegan snacks. The first two ingredients are the beans, which is why the fiber and protein content is high and something I can get on board with, including at breakfast! A chip with more fiber and protein is still going to cause a rise in my blood sugar (thanks for the energy!) but it will be a slower rise and more sustained energy release than its processed flour counterpart.

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This dish takes minimal ingredients and time, so it could be made for a weekday morning, but I dug into this skillet on a slow morning at home. I made this a solo breakfast, but you can easily double the recipe and make it for you and your boo.

I hope you find time to make this healthy, tasty skillet!

Breakfast Chilaquiles- serves 1

Ingredients

  • 1 small zucchini, thinly sliced

  • Thinly sliced red onion, a small or medium handful depending on your love of onion

  • 3/4 can (or about 1.25 cups) of tomato sauce (I use Hunt’s Tomato Sauce)

  • 2 handfuls of Beanfield’s Jalapeno Nacho Bean Chips

  • 2 organic, pasture-raised eggs

  • 1 tbsp avocado oil

  • Toppings: cubed avocado, greek yogurt (or cotija cheese)

Directions

  1. To a heated cast iron skillet, add sliced zucchini and a 1/4 cup of water. Cook zucchini until starting to soften and water evaporates. Then add red onions and avocado oil. Stir and sauce until starting to brown.

  2. Pour in tomato sauce and add chips. Using tongs, stir everything together to coat chips in sauce. Make 2 wells in the sauce and crack an egg into each space. Slide skillet under the broiler and cook until egg whites are set and yolks are cooked to your liking.

  3. Remove from under broiler and top with a drizzle of plain greek yogurt (or shower of cotija cheese) and avocado.

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Note: I did not receive any financial compensation for this post. I just really love the Beanfields brand and want to spread the word!