Thursday, March 26, 2015

Eggplant Pizza

It's amazing to me how quickly time flies by when you're preparing for a baby! I haven't posted a recipe in so long, mostly because I really haven't been super creative in the kitchen. I've been cooking a lot of easy repeat recipes; Asian stir-fry, steak and sweet potato, chicken cobb salad, chicken or pork tacos, etc. You know, those easy go-to meals that you've made so many times you can do it on auto-pilot. But I got tired of eating the same vegetables and needed something new in the rotation. I'm trying very hard not to go overboard on eating junk food during my pregnancy, so to avoid bread but still feel like I'm having pizza, I give you this...

Eggplant Pizza

Prep Time: 30 minutes
Cook Time: 30 minutes
Total Time: 1 hour
Serves: 3-4 people

Special Tools:
Roasting pan
Large saute pan
Medium sauce pot


1 large eggplant (mine was about 9-10 inches)
1 lb of grass-fed beef (I used White Oak Pastures)
1 can of diced tomatoes
1/4 cup of tomato paste
2 garlic cloves, minced
1/2 cup chopped onion
1/2 cup chopped green pepper
1/2 cup Parmesan cheese
1/2 Mozzarella cheese
2 Tbsp Italian seasoning, divided
Fresh chopped basil (about 10 leaves)
Black olives (optional)
Red pepper flakes (optional)


Wash and dry the eggplant. Cut into 3/4 inch slices. Lay on paper towels and sprinkle salt on each one to draw out the moisture for about 30 minutes.
Meanwhile, brown the ground beef with some garlic and Italian seasoning in a saute pan. While there are still juices in the pan from the browned ground beef, add chopped onion and green pepper and cook until they begin to soften and the juice evaporates.
In another pot, put 1 can of diced tomatoes (or about two cups of freshly diced) and 1/4 cup (or 4 oz) of tomato paste. Add in some Italian seasoning and half of the fresh chopped basil and simmer. Then combine the ground beef mixture with the sauce. It should be thick.
Check the eggplant after about 30 minutes and pat dry them to remove the excess moisture. This will also remove some of the salt so it won't be overly salty. Lightly brush the eggplant with olive oil and Italian seasoning and roast them in a 375F oven for about 20-25 minutes. Don't let them get soggy. They still need to retain their shape. 
Remove the eggplant from the oven and top each one with the meat sauce, any additional toppings you may want (fresh basil, black olives, red pepper flakes, etc.), and a generous portion of Parmesan and Mozzarella cheese.
Place under the broiler just long enough for the cheese to get nice and melted and golden brown.

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Slow Cooker Meatballs with Spaghetti Squash

Slow Cooker Meatballs with Spaghetti Squash

Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 3-6 hours
Serves: 4

Special Tools:
Slow Cooker (use a liner if you have one for easier clean up)
Foil lined baking sheet
Medium size ice cream scoop
Large mixing bowl


1 medium spaghetti squash

For the meatballs:

1 lb grass fed ground beef
½ lb mild pork sausage
1 egg
¼ large yellow onion, minced
¼ large green pepper, minced
¼ cup almond flour
1 tbsp garlic powder
1 tbsp oregano
¼ tsp of cayenne pepper
a few pinches of sea salt and cracked black pepper

For the sauce:
1 14.5 oz can of diced tomatoes
1 6 oz can of tomato paste
5-6 cloves of garlic, minced
½ large yellow onion, diced
a handful of chopped fresh basil
a few pinches of sea salt and cracked black pepper

1. Put all of the ingredients for the meatballs in a large bowl. Use your hands to mix well.
2. With an ice cream scoop, form meatballs about 1.5 – 2 inches in diameter.
3. Place all the meatballs in a slow cooker.
4. Wash and rinse the bowl, and use it again to mix all the ingredients of the sauce together.
5. Pour the sauce over and around the meatballs.
6. Cover and put on high for 3 hours or low for 5-6 hours. Stir about once an hour.
7. About 45 minutes before the meatballs are done, preheat the oven to 400 degrees.
8. Cut the spaghetti squash in half long ways. Place both halves face down on a foil lined baking sheet and bake for 35-40 minutes. You’ll know it’s done when the outside gives a little when you press it. Scoop out the seeds and pulp.
9. Use a fork to shred the “noodles” and top with some meatballs and sauce. Enjoy!

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Steak Burrito Bowl

I haven’t posted anything in quite a while. Mostly because we’re so busy these days preparing for Baby Blanco. I can’t believe we’re already in the third trimester. Only ten weeks left until we meet this little jumping bean. In the meantime, I’m trying hard to keep up with a paleo-ish diet and be as consistent as possible in the gym.

I have to say, I feel like I was super lucky for never having to experience any sort of morning sickness or crazy food aversions. I read an article several months back from The 80/20 that explained how women who ate a healthy diet prior to becoming pregnant were less likely to experience morning sickness. Don’t be fooled, there was, and still is, plenty of off-putting things people don’t warn you about while being pregnant. But all-in-all, the goodness and excitement outweighs the bad and ugly parts.

One of the areas that I like, but am cautious about for obvious reasons, is food cravings. While I want to go ham on just about everything sugary and carb-tastic, I know the reality is it will be much harder taking the weight off after pregnancy than it is putting it on in the first place. So like my like pre-pregnancy lifestyle, I’m trying hard to stick to 80/20 eating, though I’m sure it’s more like 70/30 Ha! In the first trimester, I really wanted Chinese food. There was this hole in the wall place not far from where my family and I lived in Jacksonville. I may have even mentioned this place in a previous post (I seriously loved it). I would literally gorge myself on as much lo mein, beef and broccoli, sweet and sour chicken, egg drop soup, and whatever else looked appealing that day. All I can do is shake my head now. But I was seriously craving this place for weeks. Thankfully, I think I ate Chinese only once while visiting my in-laws. I barely mentioned it being a craving and an hour later I had multiple containers of Chinese food ready to be consumed. These days, I’m craving mostly tacos or some variation. I can’t eat enough avocadoes or guacamole, so at least once a week we have tacos or taco salads. Yesterday I had an idea to make a burrito bowl. I don’t usually eat tortilla shells anyway, but I like everything else inside a burrito, thus emerged my steak burrito bowl. Enjoy!

*Disclaimer – if you’re going for strict paleo, leave out the rice, beans, cheese, and Greek yogurt.

Steak Burrito Bowl

Prep Time: 4-6+ hours (inactive)

Cook Time: 1 hour, divided

Serves: 4

Special Tools:


Rice Cooker

Small pot

Medium sauté pan

High speed blender or food processor

Small bowl


Steak Marinade + Bean/Rice Seasoning:

1 + ½ tsp of chili powder

½ tsp of garlic powder

½ tsp of onion powder

½ tsp of cumin

¼ tsp of cayenne pepper

¼ tsp of sea salt

juice of one lime

Burrito Bowl Toppings:

1 lb of skirt steak (or you could use flank)

1 can organic black beans

½ cup uncooked white rice

1 medium yellow onion, sliced

1 medium red bell pepper, sliced

1 tomato, diced

1 avocado, diced

1 cup of sprinkle cheese

4-6 cups of lettuce

handful of roughly chopped cilantro

Cilantro-Avocado Cream:

1 avocado

juice of 1 lime

½ cup of chopped cilantro

¼ - ½ cup of full-fat Greek yogurt (I used Chobani brand. Has the most fat and least amount of sugar of the other brands I looked at in the store. You could potentially use coconut milk, though the flavor and consistency would be less like sour cream).


1. In the small bowl, mix together all of the seasonings for the marinade, except the lime juice.

2. Place the steak in a resealable plastic bag with the lime juice. Add half of the seasoning mix to the bag and toss the sealed bag around to coat all parts of the steak. Place in the refrigerator for at least 4 hours.

3. About an hour before the steak comes out, place the beans in a small pot. Add half of the remaining seasoning mixture to the pot. Cover and let the beans cook on low for about an hour, stirring occasionally.

4. About 30 minutes before the steak comes out, add your rice to the rice cooker. Wash it twice. Add ¾ cup of water, 1 tbsp of olive oil, and the remainder of the seasoning mixture to the cooker. Put the lid on and start it up. (Confession: I’ve never cooked rice on the stove before. I have a rice cooker! If you don’t, look up how to cook it on the stove, because I don’t know.)

5. About 20 minutes before the steak comes out, heat the sauté pan on medium with a tablespoon of olive oil. Add the onions and bell pepper and let them cook down until very soft. I left mine on low once they were tender and just let them continue to cook down. Add a tsp of water or so if they look like they are drying out at any point.

6. Chop up the tomato, avocado, lettuce, and cilantro if you haven’t already.

7. Make the cilantro-avocado dressing by placing all the ingredients into a food processor or high speed blender. You’ll probably need to scrape down the sides a few times. I was looking for a creamy consistency, but if you want something more runny like a dressing, add more liquid, either lime juice or water about a tsp at a time.

8. Heat your grill to medium-high heat. Cook steak for 5 minutes on each side or longer for your meat to be more cooked through. Take it off the heat and LET IT REST for at least 5 minutes more. Then slice it into bit size pieces.

At this point, everything should be done. You can plate your burrito bowl however you’d like, but this is how I did it:

Lettuce, rice, beans, steak, onions and peppers, cheese, tomato, avocado, cilantro-avocado cream, and a bit more cilantro.