Lighter & Healthier

Chicken Zoodle Soup

Hi, my name is Shawnda and I am on day 20-ish of my Whole30-ish.

I’m alive. Ish.

Chicken Zoodle Soup

Actually, I’m completely alive. Totally fine. Skin looks ah-mazing. And am at that point where I’m like Bring on the glitter, the cape, and the leggings, bitches, because I am super woman and I can do anything!!!

Well, anything but pull-off leggings as pants. But really, who among us can?

Chicken Zoodle Soup

A couple of weeks ago, I waved my magic laptop and turned a Christmas giftcard into a Spiralizer. I eagerly awaited the arrival of a trendy kitchen gadget that I couldn’t wait to use four times and then shove it in the back of a cabinet. But I have since turned countless zucchini into countless yards of zucchini noodles – zoodles! – for fake pastas and it still sits on my counter.

Zucchini noodles from the spiralizer

I love that thing. But I also really love zucchini (and that’s the extent of plants that I’ve tested on the spiralizer thus far). I grow zucchini every year, until the vine borers get it, mostly because I like coating it in bacon and cheesy goodness. And this will happen with zoodles. Very soon.

It’s already made it into mac & cheese. I’ll have to show you that one soon.

Chicken Zoodle Soup

But for soup & sandwich night (or for me, soup and soup night), I simmered some chicken stock from the freezer with sliced onions, carrots, and minced garlic. During the last 5 minutes, I dropped zoodles and shredded rotisserie chicken into the broth to heat.

Each serving has 3 oz of chicken, an entire zucchini, and 1.5 cups of soup. Hearty, filling, and simple. And another couple of servings of plants checked off for the day!

Chicken Zoodle Soup

Homemade hearty chicken "zoodle" soup made with zucchini noodles.

Ingredients

  • 6 cups chicken broth or stock
  • 2 medium onions, sliced in very thin half-rounds
  • Handful of baby carrots, sliced into ~1/2-inch pieces
  • 2 cloves minced garlic
  • Salt
  • Pepper
  • Handful of chopped parsley
  • 2 Chicken breasts, cooked and shredded (I aim for ~3 oz per serving)
  • 4 medium zucchini, ends trimmed and cut in half vertically

Instructions

  1. Heat chicken stock over medium heat with onions, carrots, and garlic for ~30 minutes, or until the veggies are fork-tender.
  2. Season soup with salt and pepper and parsley.
  3. Run the zucchini halves through the spiralizer to make "noodles." Then give the pile of noodles a couple of chops with a knife so they aren't all 4 feet long.
  4. Add chicken and zucchini to the broth and heat through.

Notes

Yields: 4 generous servings

Source: Confections of a Foodie Bride

Estimated time: 45 minutes

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We don’t eat a lot of white potatoes around here. I can count on one hand the number of times I’ve made mashed potatoes as an adult. And when it came time to make them during the holidays, I actually had to get pointers from a friend.

So when a photo of these tiny smashed, crispy potatoes popped up in my Facebook feed a couple of weeks ago, I thought, “Why the &^$# not?”

The “why not” from the past has always had an easy enough answer. White potatoes have always been the enemy in the form of chips (gloriously crunchy potato chips!) and fries (gloriously crispy waffle fries!). It’s not the potato’s fault that I haven’t ever been able to control myself around them after they’ve made a trip through a giant vat of frying oil.

So now I – we – eat potatoes, but minus the vat of boiling oil.

I bought a bag of fingerling potatoes. I boiled them. I smashed them with Landry (she calls them “Splat Potatoes”) because nothing delights a 4-year-old than getting to whack the heck out of something with the poultry mallet from her play kitchen without me yelling, “We don’t hammer anything but play-doh!”

And then I high-heat roasted them on a pan with some olive oil, black pepper, and rosemary until they were crispy.

While Landry declared them to be “just like Chick-fil-A but without any holes,” they actually fall somewhere in between an oven-baked fry and a tiny baked potato. Light crisp on the outside, soft and baked potato-like in the middle.

They’re a delicious starch side dish all on their own. But go ahead, top it with a dollop of greek yogurt and a crumble of bacon :)

I will say that the ~50 minutes it took me to make them meant that it would be difficult to squeeze these in on a busy weeknight. So that led me down two paths:
1) I made a larger batch with the purpose of having leftovers but we instantly found that day 2 potatoes aren’t nearly as good as day 1 potatoes.
2) I split the preparation over 2 days – boil and drain the potatoes while I was making something else for dinner and then toss them in the fridge during kitchen clean-up. Pick up the process of splat-and-roast on day 2, 3, and beyond.

The latter has been a huge time-saver. I can splat a dozen or so, roast, and then suddenly I’m looking at a 25-minute side dish, which is well within my “45-minute weeknight dinner” rule.

Flat-Roasted Potatoes with Rosemary and Black Pepper

Crispy, flat-roasted fingerling potatoes with rosemary and black pepper.

Ingredients

  • 1.5 lb bag of fingerling potatoes (the size will vary greatly so cut the overly large ones in half)
  • 2 Tbsp olive oil, plus more for smashing
  • 4-inch sprig of rosemary
  • Salt
  • Black pepper

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 450 and place 2 Tbsp olive oil on a large baking sheet.
  2. Put potatoes in a pot covered with 1-inch of water and bring to a boil.
  3. Cook for ~15 minutes, until fork tender and then drain.
  4. Lightly oil a piece of wax or parchment paper. Place potatoes on the bottom half of the paper and fold the top of the paper over.
  5. Using your hand, flatten the potatoes and transfer to the baking sheet.
  6. Using a brush or the sprig of rosemary, coat the potatoes with olive oil from the sheet.
  7. Season with salt, pepper, and break up the rosemary over top.
  8. Roast for 15 minutes, flip, and then roast for ~5 minutes more until golden brown around the edges.

Notes

Yields: 4-6 servings

Adapted from Fine Cooking

Estimated time: 50 minutes

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Sauteed Kale and Spinach with Bacon & Balsamic

It’s the veggie side/breakfast entree you never knew you were missing. But you absolutely have been.

Because you can start out your day with far worse breakfasts – my personal favorite, after all, is kolache and a diet coke – but to squeeze in two servings of leafy green veggies, some protein, and a slice of bacon? That’s tough to beat on the pretty-nutritionally-amazing-and-still-delicious scale.

Sauteed Kale and Spinach with Bacon & Balsamic

I owe the creation of this sauteed kale and spinach dish to my friend Kelly. She introduced me to a steam-in-bag kale that includes 2 large medallions of “balsamic bacon butter.” (You can probably find the same stuff in the refrigerated section of your produce department.) It’s pretty good stuff.

But since I’m currently EightSevenPercenting a Whole30, I wanted to make a cleaner at-home version without the butter and with more pronounced balsamic and bacon components.

The dish contains a lot of strong flavors: kale and spinach (although milder in “baby” form), balsamic vinegar, garlic, and bacon. Together they, of course, are wonderful – and that’s what makes them so ideal for breakfast. Because the richness of two runny egg yolks can really tame a bowl of cooked greens.

Sauteed Kale and Spinach with Bacon & Balsamic


[Shoe box-sized container of baby kale and baby spinach, Enter Stage Right]

You start with a mountain of leafy greens – the kind you of mountain that have to cook in your big pasta pot because soooo many leaves. 10 minutes later, you end up with barely 3 cups of sauteed greens.

That’s 1 serving of vegetables per 1/2 cup of cooked greens. I typically eat a double serving because 1) that’s 2 servings of veggies out of the 7-10 I am aiming to eat per day and 2) this stuff is really good.

Sauteed Kale and Spinach with Bacon & Balsamic

Sauteed baby kale and spinach with balsamic vinegar and crispy bacon.

Ingredients

  • 3 slices of bacon
  • 1 Tbsp olive oil (optional, see recipe below)
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 16 oz clamshell of baby kale and baby spinach
  • Salt
  • 2 Tbsp balsamic vinegar

Instructions

  1. In a large "pasta pot," crisp 3 slices of bacon on medium-high heat.
  2. Remove the bacon from the pan but leave 1 Tbsp of bacon grease behind. (Alternately: crisp the bacon, discard all of the bacon grease, and heat 1 Tbsp olive oil.)
  3. Reduce the heat to medium and add the garlic, stirring to coat.
  4. Add the entire container of greens and cover.
  5. Let the greens wilt for 1-2 minutes, add a pinch of salt, and stir.
  6. Continue to cook covered, stirring every 1-2 minutes until the greens have cooked down and have lost their "fresh leaf" look.
  7. Add the balsamic vinegar and stir, cooking uncovered until nearly all of the standing liquid is gone.
  8. If serving immediately, crumble bacon over top. If you are planning to have leftovers, split the crumbled bacon accordingly and store the rest separately from the greens so it doesn't get soggy.

Notes

Yields: 5 (1/2-cup) servings

Source: Confections of a Foodie Bride

Estimated time: 15 minutes

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Microwave Sweet Potato Chips

The absence of crunchy food is probably one of the hardest things to “get over” while I am eating clean/Whole30. All the amazing foods are crunchy: potato chips, crackers, tortilla chips, every other chip out there.

Maybe it’s just chips that I miss? Because really, there’s no substitute.

And I recommend immediately reevaluating your relationship with anyone who tells you that dipping baby carrots or celery in guacamole is “just as good.” Because they are straight-up lying. And they clearly have something against guacamole. Or you.

Maybe both.

Microwave Sweet Potato Chips

I mean, fajita night is one of my favorite meals of the week. And I’m already voluntarily passing on the margaritas and the tortillas… but carrots in my guacamole? No.

Just no.

My last Whole30, I discovered how to make sweet potato chips in the microwave. It’s easy and the chips are crispy and delicious. And honestly? It really saves fajita night.

Microwave Sweet Potato Chips

You will need a mandoline to get slices thin enough that will crisp – I had a gift card and sprang (sprung?) for this one after my years-old $15 Target version broke.

Microwave Sweet Potato Chips

So let’s talk how you make crispy sweet potato chips in the microwave:
1. Thiiiiinly slice sweet potatoes.
2. Spread on parchment paper with olive oil, salt, and pepper. (Might I also recommend a sprinkling of chipotle chile powder? Because YUM.)
3. Microwave ’til crispy.
4. Eat with guacamole and save fajita night. And your sanity. And possibly the lives of those around you when you’re 5 days deep into sugar withdrawals.

Microwave Sweet Potato Chips

Thin & crispy sweet potato chips made in the microwave.

Ingredients

  • Sweet potatoes*
  • Olive oil
  • Salt
  • Pepper
  • *Look for sweet potatoes that are as uniformly thick as you can find. The chips will be ~the same size and will cook evenly.

Instructions

  1. Take a piece of parchment paper ~the size of your microwave turntable plate and fold/trim as necessary so that the paper rotates freely while the microwave is running - you don't want the paper to get caught and crumple. it will take your potatoes with it.
  2. Using a mandoline on the thinnest setting, slice the sweet potato.
  3. Lightly spray the parchment with olive oil, and, working in batches, spread the sweet potato slices in a single layer.
  4. Lightly spray again with olive oil and then sprinkle with salt and pepper.
  5. Microwave for 4:00 on Power Level 9 (for much smaller rounds, this is likely all you'll need; rounds that start out 2.5 inches usually need 5.5-6 minutes in my microwave) and check for crispness.
  6. Some trial and error will be involved. Continue cooking in 30-45 second intervals on Power Level 9 until crispness is achieved - they will actually get crispier as they cool so if you're on the fence, pull one out of the microwave for ~15 seconds and then eat it. If your potatoes start to develop a darker/grayish concentric ring, stop them - you don't want to cook for much longer because they will scorch. And that is no bueno.
  7. Enjoy your crispy sweet potato chips immensely with guacamole!
  8. Leftovers are okay but they lose their snap and are never as good as first-run chips - so make them the day you want to eat them.

Notes

Yields: Servings vary

Batter barely adapted from Cooking Light

Estimated time: 10 minutes

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