Trick or Treat Tuesdays

Jeff and I have really been trying to eat better and start living a healthier lifestyle lately. We attempted a Whole30 last month, but I didn’t plan well enough and we fell off the wagon in the middle of the month, so we didn’t actually complete a true Whole30. However, we did stick to it long enough to experience a lot of the non-scale victories that Whole30 is famous for.

Both of us felt better when we were eating clean, and as we have reintroduced foods that were not allowed on the Whole30 back into our diets, we have really been making an effort to listen to our bodies and pay attention to how certain foods make us feel.

It didn’t take me long to discover that anything made with corn or cornmeal is not my friend (which really hurts my feelings, because cornbread and chicken dressing are pretty much my favorite foods). While I don’t know if I am ready to completely give up those foods, I have decided that I’m going to save them for special occasions like Thanksgiving and Christmas and eat them sparingly on those occasions.

As we’ve been trying to figure out what to do post-Whole30, I’ve been reading a lot about the Paleo lifestyle. While I’m not sure that we want to go in 100% on the Paleo train yet, I am really interested in learning more about the lifestyle. One thing that I have noticed a lot of Paleo chefs do is recreate traditional recipes in a healthier way. While making “treats” is not permitted on the Whole30, it is a common thing in the Paleo world for people to use clean ingredients to make dupes of their favorite treats like cookies, pancakes, and even ice cream.

I’m very skeptical about being able to make tasty treats with no flour, butter, milk, or processed sugars, but I am willing to try it.

Thanks to Instagram, I found Vanessa Barajas, the author of Clean Eating with a Dirty Mind, which is a cookbook filled with 150 Paleo-inspired recipes. I immediately bought the cookbook with plans to choose some of our favorite treats to see if they can  trick our taste buds.

Each Tuesday of this month, I will be sharing a favorite treat of mine (with my traditional family recipe, for those of you who are not on a Paleo diet) AND the Paleo trick for recreating that sweet treat in a healthier way from this cookbook. I will be giving you my honest reviews of these recipes – what I like, what I don’t, and even Jeff’s (always brutally honest) comments.

Here are the recipes that I will be putting to the test this month:

  • Nestle Toll House Original Chocolate Chip Cookies vs. Clean Eating Soft Batch Chocolate Chip Cookies
  • Traditional Pumpkin Bread Muffins vs. Clean Eating Pumpkin Bread Muffins
  • Peanut Butter Balls vs. Clean Eating Almond Butter Cups
  • 1001 Chocolate Chip Cake vs. Clean Eating Death By Chocolate Cake

I hope that you’ll join me for Trick or Treat Tuesdays this month!


Christina

Baked Chicken Breasts with Zucchini Noodles in Spinach and Walnut Pesto

I made zucchini noodles today and now I am wondering why it took me so long to try them. They were amazing! I could replace spaghetti with zucchini noodles forever and not miss it one bit. Also, they were incredibly easy and cooked super fast. This meal came together so quickly that I barely felt like I had cooked, but it was really tasty and Jeff gave it his stamp of approval. That’s always a win. Check out the recipes below:

Simply the Best Baked Chicken

I used boneless, skinless chicken breasts for this, but you could absolutely use bone-in chicken. You’d just need to adjust your cooking time. Usually bone-in chicken tends to take a little longer to cook. Just make sure that the juices are running clear when you puncture the chicken to be sure it is done.

4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts

2 Tbsp avacado oil

Salt

Pepper

In a skillet, heat the avacado oil over medium high heat until warm. Make sure to swirl it around to coat the entire skillet. 

Season chicken breasts with salt and pepper. Place in the skillet seasoned side down. Season the other side with salt and pepper. 

Cook for about 3-4 minutes, until browned. Flip the chicken and cook on the other side for an additional 3-4 minutes. 

Transfer to a 400 degree oven and bake for 25 minutes. 

Browning the chicken in the skillet first makes such a huge difference in how flavorful this chicken is! Having that crispy, browned crust makes it so savory!

Spinach and Walnut Pesto

1 1/2 cups finely packed spinach

1/2 cup fresh basil

2 cloves of garlic, minced

1/2 cup toasted walnuts, chopped

Juice of 1 lemon

1 teaspoon salt

1/2 teaspoon pepper

1/2 cup olive oil

Combine the spinach, basil, walnuts, garlic, lemon juice, salt, and pepper in a blender or food processor. Drizzle in olive oil until you reach the desired consistency. 

Put It All Together

Spiralize 3-4 large zucchini using a vegetable spirializer like this one. Sauté the noodles on medium high heat in avacado oil with a little salt and pepper for about 3-4 minutes or until tender. Add two tablespoons of pesto to the noodles and toss until coated.

Serve with sliced chicken breasts and toasted walnuts for garnish.