Friday, July 15, 2016

Paleo Buffalo Chicken Casserole

I'm looking forward to football season.  Not that (American) football is my favorite sport, but football means fall is coming, and I love getting together with friends, food, and a firepit, and having some fellowship around whatever big game is on over any given weekend.

In my small circle, I've become famous for my Buffalo Chicken Dip.  It's delicious, and always a crowd pleaser, but in no way is it even remotely healthy, let alone Paleo (more on that later).  I found a good recipe for Buffalo Chicken Salad, which I recently brought to a Gender Reveal party, and it will suffice; but I wanted to find something special that would really satisfy those Buffalo cravings, and really amp up the nutrition.  Enter: Buffalo Chicken Casserole.


I guess I need to work on my food photography skills.  Or, I'll just ask Jeff to take all my photos.  And it would probably help if I didn't try to take them at night and could use the natural light; but, I digress.  It's not the prettiest dish I'll ever make, but doesn't it look scrumptious?  You probably wouldn't guess what is in it, but I'm going to let you in on the secret.

Spaghetti squash!  And lots of it.  I'm pretty sure I scraped every morsel of spaghetti out of that roasted squash.  There are also lots of carrots and onions inside, and in hindsight, I could probably add celery too.  I adapted the recipe from Jay's Baking Me Crazy, to make it 21 Day Fix friendly for me and Jeff, and also to change up a couple of things more to our taste.  I measured using the color-coded containers, but I will provide measurements here to the closest unit of measure.

Yield: 6 servings

6 cups cooked* spaghetti squash, shredded (1 large squash)
2 cups sweet onion, diced (approximately 1 medium-large onion)
1 cup diced carrots
7 cups cooked chicken, shredded (about 2 lbs)
3 eggs
1 cup Frank's Original Red Hot
¼ cup mayonnaise (homemade or this Primal Kitchen option for Paleo)
1 tbsp olive oil
2 tsp homemade ranch seasoning (recipe below, or use Hidden Valley if non-Paleo)
1 tsp garlic powder
Salt & pepper, to taste 

1.  Preheat oven to 400°F.  Line a 13 x 9 pan with parchment paper and set aside.
2.  Sauté onions and carrots in olive oil over medium to medium high heat for 5-7 minutes, until softened to your liking.
3.  If you haven't already, use a clean towel and a colander to press the liquid out of the squash, which helps prevent the casserole from becoming watery.  Place it in a large bowl, and then add the onions and carrots to the squash, followed by all the remaining ingredients except for the eggs.  Stir well.
4.  Add the eggs to the bowl and mix well.  Spread mixture into the prepared pan, and use a spatula to smooth it evenly throughout.  Bake for 30-35 minutes.

You could serve this with extra ranch by mixing some of the ranch seasoning into some mayonnaise.

Homemade Ranch Seasoning Mix (Paleo/Whole 30 compliant)

Yield: ½ pint 


1 tsp Celtic or Himalayan sea salt
4 tbsp parsley
3 tsp dill weed 
2 tsp dried chives
4 tsp garlic powder
4 tsp onion powder
4 tsp dried onion flakes
2 tsp black pepper


Mix all ingredients together well in a bowl.  Store in an airtight glass jar.  2 tbsp of this mixture equals 1 packet of Hidden Valley ranch seasoning, and is MUCH healthier!  I adapted the recipe from The Pinning Mama to reduce the salt.

*Note: If you have never cooked spaghetti squash before, check out these tips for how to make it without losing a finger ;)

If you are following the 21 Day Fix meal plan like I am, each serving will give you 1½ green, 1½ red, and ½ teaspoon.  You could eat ½ cup steamed broccoli or raw celery with the casserole to round out 2 green containers, and you could also scoop ⅓ cup Greek yogurt onto your serving of casserole to make up 2 red containers.

Wednesday, August 19, 2015

Healthy Thin Mint  Surprise  Shakeology®

Sometimes, you just need a thin mint cookie.  No problem when it's Girl Scout cookie season.  But what do you do when it's not?  Healthy Thin Mint Surprise Shakeology® to the rescue!  I adapted this recipe from Megan of With Salt and Wit.

Note: I typically use Vegan Chocolate Shakeology® because I prefer the taste, but this recipe is not dairy free.

½ cup cottage cheese*, 2% (low sodium recommended) - SURPRISE!
½ cup unsweetened almond milk
2 teaspoons unsweetened cocoa/cacao powder
1 scoop Chocolate, Vegan Chocolate, or Vanilla Shakeology®
¼ teaspoon peppermint or mint extract
½ - 1 cup ice (optional; per your thickness preference)

1.  In a high powered blender**, blend cottage cheese and almond milk until smooth
2.  Add remaining ingredients and blend until smooth or desired consistency is achieved
3.  Enjoy!

*Cottage cheese haters – I am one of you.  I can’t stand the taste or texture.  I promise both disappear with the blender and additional ingredients.  Cottage cheese is a great source of selenium, which is nourishing for the thyroid!
**While I dream of someday owning a Vitamix or Blendtec, those are not currently in the budget.  Based on reviews and product description, I opted to purchase a KitchenAid® 5-Speed Diamond Blender instead.  It was a fraction of the price ($129.95), plus I used a 20% off coupon from Bed Bath and Beyond, who usually offers free shipping on orders of $49 or more.  I ended up paying $104 plus tax for an awesome blender I’ve used to whip up Shakeology®, homemade baby food, soup, tomato sauce, etc.  PLUS it comes in 16 different colors!  Note – I was not compensated in any way to endorse this product.  I just happen to like it a lot and think it’s a great alternative to also amazing, but much pricier blenders such as those mentioned above.      

Friday, May 22, 2015

Skinny Chicken Parmesan

This recipe is an adaptation of Skinny Pesto Chicken Bake from one of my amazing mentors, Cyndy Dube.  We could not get ahold of fresh basil anywhere to make the pesto, so I improvised.  This version is mom tested, firefighter approved!


(2) boneless, skinless chicken breasts (16 oz./1 lb. total)
(1) Roma or plum tomato, thinly sliced
(6) tbsp shredded, reduced-fat mozzarella cheese (equates to 1.5 oz)
(2) tsp grated parmesan cheese
Your favorite clean tomato basil or marinara sauce
Sea salt and fresh cracked pepper to taste


  1. Preheat the oven to 400° F.
  2. Wash chicken and dry with a paper towel
  3. Slice chicken breast horizontally to create 4 thinner cutlets 
  4. Season chicken lightly with salt and pepper 
  5. Line baking sheet with foil or parchment for easy clean-up
  6. Place the chicken on prepared baking sheet
  7. Spread 2 Tbsp (or so) of sauce on each piece of chicken
  8. Bake for 15 minutes or until chicken is no longer pink in the center
  9. Remove from oven and top with tomatoes, mozzarella, and parmesan cheese
10. Bake for an additional 3 to 5 minutes or until cheese is melted

Jeff finished his in about three minutes and asked if it was something he could easily make at the station.  We had ours with salad, but I would also recommend serving with pasta, zoodles, or maybe even quinoa cooked in no-salt-added chicken or vegetable stock spiced with Italian seasoning. 

Thursday, May 21, 2015

My Journey Back to Health & Into Fitness

Stepping out of my comfort zone and into the world of Beachbody coaching

Timing. It's crucial to a lot of things, and to whether they do or do not happen. There is good timing and bad timing, but most importantly there is God's timing. Three months before my husband Jeff and I met and started dating, we were both at my cousin's 29th birthday party/soccer game. I met his twin brother and my future sister-in-law that day, but neither of us saw the other. God had other plans.  

A year after Jeff and I married, a friend's post on Facebook struck a chord within me. She extended an invitation to join her for a 7-day {Shakeology} challenge. I had heard of Shakeology before from other Beachbody coaches I knew, but I had not previously paid attention, nor was I interested.  For some reason, I felt a tug on my gut and heard a tiny voice whisper, "accept the invitation".  I ran the idea by Jeff, and he was fine with my spending $35 for a week's supply of shakes to try them out.

I really liked the shakes and how they made me feel, and I purchased a challenge pack (with Focus T-25) after the conclusion of the challenge.  After talking a bit with my friend Angel, I decided to sign up as a Beachbody coach so I could get the discount on the shakes each month.  On occasion, I would invite people to participate in challenges, but I didn't do anything major with coaching.  When I became pregnant with the twins, Angel encouraged me to start actively working on making coaching a business and I began to think about it.  

Fast forward to now.  Our sweet MadMax boys will be 6 months old (!!!) tomorrow (how did that happen?!?), and in the past couple months, a lot has changed.  Jeff and I did a 3-Day Refresh and are now both on Shakeology daily.  We accepted a Diet Bet challenge which wraps up on Memorial Day, and we are working hard to win.  On June 6th, we will start the Ultimate Reset, which is a 21-day program to detox and hit the "reset button" on our bodies.  I will blog about that experience here.  The most exciting change, however, is that Jeff signed up as a coach on my team!  Again with God's timing - a fire has been lit under us, and we are ready to overhaul our health and fitness, and help others along the way.  Our sweet neighbor, Donna, decided she wants to be Fit by 50 and has also become a coach with us.  Team Fit Just Wright has now formed and we are ready to get to work!