Barbecue Meatloaf

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Awesome Sauce!

As a born and raised Texan, barbecue has pretty much always been a staple, and any good Texan will always have a good BBQ sauce on hand. Right there in the fridge next to the sweet tea (P.S. I hate sweet tea). However, during my two rounds of Whole30 I had such a hard time locating a delicious and “clean” sauce without spending 45 dollars and my left thumb. Finally, I found this amazingly tasty and simple barbecue sauce with no added sugars! I made a couple of changes, simply adding a little paprika and cayenne, and using a few less dates.

After making a batch of BBQ sauce, I wondered what to do with the leftovers. I had some frozen ground beef and thought I would try out a BBQ meatloaf. I rarely make meatloafs, but after making this I’ve decided it will be a staple in our home! We have a hard time getting our 18-month-old, Zemirah, to eat meat, but she loved it! And my husband, David, said it is his new favorite meal!

You don’t have to make the same BBQ sauce I did, and if you have a favorite, healthier sauce on hand, try it out and see what you think. Serve this with my Creamy Whole30 Mashed Potatoes and an extra spoonful of sauce (or in Z’s case, mustard), and you will have a happy tummy. I hope this meatloaf will be a hit around your dinner table and become a staple in your home, too!

meatloaf3.jpgBarbecue Meatloaf

Makes one meatloaf, will serve five.

Ingredients:

  • 1.5 lbs ground beef
  • 1/2 cup BBQ sauce, divided in two
  • 1/2 cup, plus two tbsp almond flour
  • 1/4 cup tomato sauce
  • Three eggs
  • One small onion, chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1.5 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp pepper
  • 1 tsp ground mustard
  • 1/2 tsp paprika
  • 1/4-1/2 tsp cayenne, depending on taste

Directions:

  • Preheat oven to 375 F
  • Prepare baking sheet with foil and cooking spray
  • Combine all ingredients, except 1/4 cup BBQ sauce, in medium mixing bowl
  • Mix with hands until well combined
  • Shape mixture into a loaf on prepared pan
  • Brush the top with remaining BBQ sauce
  • Cook for 35-40 minutes

A good sauce can really enhance a tired dish, but this is not your grandmother’s meatloaf. It’s spicy, sweet, and satisfying! I hope you make it soon…and enjoy your pinch of crazy!

Creamy Whole30 Mashed Potatoes

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Dairy Free Mashed Potatoes?!

As I mentioned before, my husband is a marine, and he is a big guy. This is him getting home from a six month overseas deployment; Zemirah and I were so happy to see our favorite guy! One of the things I love most about him is his height; I feel so petite and dainty next to him. (You’re hot, honey, hehe.)

Anyyyyways, he almost always comes home from work really hungry, and let’s face it, a chicken breast with some steamed broccoli isn’t going to fill up a 6’1 hungry marine. The man needs his potatoes, and loves them in any and all forms: fried, mashed, roasted, baked, you name it.

I make mashed potatoes often because they’re easy and delicious…but not nutritious when they are loaded down with butter and cream. Potatoes have a bad reputation, but it’s really all the fixings we add that make them “bad”. In fact, one medium russet potato, with skin, has 10% of your daily protein, 16% of your daily fiber, and contains plenty of vitamins and minerals!*

David and I recently completed a round of Whole30 together (read about our journey here), and I ran into the problem of how to prepare David’s beloved mashed potatoes while staying within Whole30 guidelines. I tried mixing them with ghee, but then they just tasted like ghee. I tried just olive oil, but they were missing the creaminess of butter. Finally, I tried coconut oil and hit the dairy free jackpot! The only catch with coconut oil is that you have to find a mild oil that doesn’t taste too coconut-y, but I promise if you get the right oil, you will have the creamiest butter-less mashed potatoes!

These mashed potatoes will fill your need for a delicious dairy free side, and leave your belly feeling full and happy!

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Creamy Whole30 Mashed Potatoes

Serves six, but could easily be doubled.

Ingredients:

  • Four medium to large russet potatoes
  • Water for boiling
  • 1/4 cup of olive oil
  • 2 tbsp coconut oil, mild flavored
  • 1/4 cup of full fat coconut milk
  • 1/2 cup of unsweetened almond milk
  • 1 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp pepper
  • 1 tsp garlic powder

Directions:

  • Peel potatoes if desired (I like to leave the skin on, after a thorough washing, of course)
  • Cut into eighths for quicker cook time
  • Place potatoes in large pot and cover with water
  • Bring to a boil
  • Cover and let cook until potatoes are easily pierced with a fork
  • Drain
  • Mash potatoes
  • Combine all ingredients and mix!

This isn’t really so much of a recipe, just my suggestion for how to make the best dairy free mashed potatoes! I hope this helps you on your Whole30 journey, or just in your daily healthy lifestyle. No need to feel guilty eating mashed potatoes! Eat up…and enjoy your pinch of crazy!

 

*nutrition facts

 

Crispy Brussels Sprouts

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I have to admit that I’ve always been a brussels sprouts hater, but two years ago, my husband and I had a plate of fried brussels sprouts at a restaurant in Colorado that completely CHANGED MY LIFE! Okay, that’s dramatic, but they definitely changed my opinion on brussels sprouts; I saw the light and now love me some crispy brussies.

Brussels sprouts are high in vitamins K and C, fiber, and contain plenty of antioxidants, but deep frying them in oil kind of defeats their healthy purpose. So instead of frying brussels, I like to roast them on a high heat to get all of that crispy yumminess while still enjoying the health benefits.

This is a simple side dish that can go with almost any entree; I like to just toss them in the oven with some sweet potatoes and chicken thighs for a complete dinner on one pan. And they seriously could not be any easier; simply toss them with olive oil and seasoning then roast!

If you’ve previously been a brussels sprouts hater, try out these crispy bad boys and I guarantee you will change your mind! Dip them in some Lemon Garlic Aioli and you will love me forever. There I go with the dramatics again, but, really, you should try them.

Crispy Brussels Sprouts

Serves four to five.  

Ingredients:

  • One and a half pounds of brussels sprouts
  • One and a half tbsp of olive oil
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp pepper
  • 1 tsp garlic powder
  • 1/4-1/2 tsp cayenne pepper

Directions:

  • Preheat oven to 425 F
  • Prepare large baking sheet with foil/parchment paper and cooking spray
  • Cut the brussels sprouts in half top to bottom, or into quarters if they’re larger
  • Place in a medium mixing bowl and drizzle with olive oil
  • Add seasonings
  • Mix together until all the halves/quarters are covered with oil and seasoning
  • Arrange on baking sheet so that the brussels sprouts are all flat, none stacked on top of each other
  • Roast for 30-40 minutes, stirring twice to ensure even roasting

That’s all, folks! I hope these crispy brussies change your mind like they did mine. Eat your greens…and enjoy your pinch of crazy!

One Pan Chicken and Shrimp Fajitas

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Winner, Winner, One Pan Dinner

It has been fairly hectic in the Mills’ household lately, and recently we had one of those days. You know, one of those days that isn’t just a pinch of crazy, but a GENEROUS pinch [heaping tablespoon] of crazy. So what do you do for dinner on those generous pinch of crazy days? You could pick up fast food on the way home, halfway enjoying your questionable beef, and consequently regretting decisions dating back to 1997. (Just me?) Or you could make a one pan dinner!

All you need to prepare this spicy, satisfying, simple meal is: a cutting board, a knife, and either a big baking sheet or a 9×13 dish! You could even buy crisp, pre-chopped fajita veggies and cut out the chopping! I’m using a lot of adjectives and exclamation points because easy dinners (and easy clean ups) make me excited!!!

Actually, this “recipe” is so easy that I almost felt it wasn’t worth it to post, but I want to be authentic by showing that it doesn’t have to be extraordinarily expensive, difficult, or time consuming to feed your family healthy food. I wish I could be as fancy as some of the chefs I watch on TV (Top Chef is my guilty pleasure!), but in reality, I’m just a mom trying to get dinner on the table in under an hour, and trying to conceal my toddler’s vegetables in a thick blanket of guacamole.

Now, the seasoning on these fajitas is fairly bold, so if you know your family doesn’t do spicy, scale it back a bit. It’s adaptable to different seasonings, or even different veggies, because you kind of just dump everything together and toss it in the oven. It truly is perfect for those days, and you will feel good about feeding your family a healthy, home cooked meal. The leftovers are excellent with salad greens and my Dairy free Garlic Herb Ranch. 

If you have a busy day coming up, I hope you plan on making this dinner! Your budget and belly will thank you!

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One Pan Chicken and Shrimp Fajitas

Serves four or five, but great as leftovers for fajita salad.

Ingredients:

  • Three large chicken breasts, cut into slices
  • 1/2 pound shrimp
  • Three bell peppers, cut into strips
  • One onion, cut into strips
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 tsp salt, plus a little more for shrimp
  • 1 tsp pepper, plus a little more for shrimp
  • 1 tsp garlic powder
  • 2 tsp chili powder
  • 1 tsp cumin
  • 1/2 tsp paprika
  • 1/4-1/2 tsp cayenne
  • Lettuce wraps or tortillas for serving
  • Optional toppings
    • guacamole
    • salsa
    • cilantro
    • squeeze of fresh lime

Directions:

  • Preheat oven to 375 while preparing meat and vegetables
  • Sprinkle shrimp with salt and pepper, set aside
  • Spray either a 9×13 pan or large baking sheet with cooking spray
  • Put all chopped vegetables and chicken on prepared pan
  • Drizzle evenly with olive oil
  • Sprinkle seasoning evenly over it all
  • Mix until oil and seasoning is evenly coating everything
  • Cook for 35 minutes
  • Place shrimp on top and cook for another 5-7 minutes until shrimp is pink
  • Serve with lettuce wraps or tortillas and top generously with guacamole and Spicy Garlic Salsa

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I hope these simple and quick fajitas free up your evening; less time cooking and cleaning means more time with family. Enjoy them…and enjoy your [generous] pinch of crazy!

 

 

Spicy Garlic Salsa

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Sad Salsa No More

Confession time: one of the things I miss most about Texas is Tex-Mex. I know some people think it’s gross or inauthentic, but I am not one of those people.

In fact, I wish I could sit down right now with some salted chips, spicy salsa, and a frozen margarita. SoCal Mexican food is very different from what I grew up with, and I like it, too, but it’s not home.

We often have more than one jar of store bought salsa in our fridge, but nothing beats fresh, homemade salsa. And it’s healthier, too; it is lower in sodium, sugar, and has no additives!

What really amps this salsa up is the charred jalapeno. Seriously. Don’t skip this step! You can either lay the jalapeno on top of your gas burner on the stove, which is what I do, or you can put it in the broiler, just make sure to keep an eye on it so it doesn’t burn. Once your jalapeno is all black and blistery, you just need to blend up your ingredients and that’s it! I’ve included a picture of the ingredients so you can see what the jalapeno looks like after it’s been charred.

salsa ingredients

Enjoy this versatile salsa with your eggs in the morning, with your beans and rice, on top of tacos or fajitas, or to dunk your plantain chips in.

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Spicy Garlic Salsa

I make a small batch for just the two adults in our family, but feel free to double up the ingredients if you want.

Equipment Needed:

  • Blender or food processor

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 to one charred jalapeno, with or without seeds, depending on taste
  • 1/2 tomato
  • 1/3 cup tomato sauce (no added salt or sugar)
  • 1/2 tsp kosher salt
  • 1/4 onion
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 1/4 cup cilantro, roughly chopped
  • Juice of half a lime

Directions:

  • Char jalapeno either on gas stovetop or in the broiler, making sure it doesn’t burn
  • Once charred, add all ingredients to blender or food processor
  • Blend until desired consistency
  • Store in airtight container in fridge for up to a week, although it never lasts longer than three days here

I hope this salsa adds some spice to your meals and snacks! Dunk away…and enjoy your pinch of crazy!

 

 

Chocolate Banana “Nice” Cream

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We All Scream for Nice Cream

It is officially August, which means we are all pretty darn sick of this heat already. I am dreaming of scarves, sipping hot, foamy lattes, crunching fallen leaves with my boot heels, and enjoying the crisp autumn breeze. Sigh. Since that won’t be happening any time soon (especially here in Southern California), the best we can do is enjoy days at the pool and lots of cold, refreshing ice cream.

Traditional ice cream is obviously dairy based…not to mention loaded with refined sugars. After removing refined sugars from my diet, I noticed a monumental decrease in my anxiety; my husband even noticed a change in my temperament! I thought maybe it was coincidental, but one night, I made brownies from a box mix, and while a certain Mrs. Crocker brought chocolatey goodness, she also brought me a racing heart and mind accompanied by a sleepless night.

So where does that leave me, a self-confessed chocoholic? No desserts ever again?!?! Thankfully, no. Completing two rounds of Whole30 completely altered my palate, and now, fruit and other natural sweeteners taste so sweet to me. But even still, a banana is not a DESSERT, and I need my fix! And in this heat, I need my fix in creamy, frozen form.

This leads us to “nice” cream: a dairy free and refined sugar free frozen treat. Basically, it’s like ice cream left the party lifestyle to focus on his health and career hehe. The base is frozen bananas so you get the cold and creamy factor, then you add plenty of dates to sweeten it up. It is seriously so good; we all literally scream (and cheer) for nice cream! I hope this delicious treat satisfies your sweet tooth and cools you down this week!

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Chocolate Banana “Nice” Cream

Four servings. You can either freeze the mixture for a more solid consistency, or serve immediately as milkshakes…it’s delicious either way!

Equipment Needed:

  • Measuring Spoons
  • Blender

Ingredients:

  • 2-3 medium sized bananas, frozen for about four hours
  • One cup of almond milk
  • Three tablespoons of 100% cocoa powder
  • One tablespoon of unsweetened almond butter (peanut butter is also delicious, but alters the taste)
  • Four pitted Medjool dates

Directions:

  • Combine all ingredients in blender and blend until smooth
  • Pour into a freezer safe bowl and freeze until solid
  • Or if you’re too impatient (like we are a lot of times), pour into glasses and drink as milkshakes!

Stay cool this week, eat lots of “nice” cream…and enjoy your pinch of crazy!

 

Dairy free Garlic Herb Ranch

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The Problem with Ranch…

Alright, listen up y’all! I am from the great state of Texas, where everything is bigger and better…and covered in ranch dressing. We are pretty much raised on the stuff. I remember going out to eat with my mom, sister, and nephew who was 13 months old at the time, and he literally picked up his side of ranch dressing and drank it! My husband and I still laugh about that today; it was so cute and funny!

Personally, I don’t enjoy ranch on my salads because then you can’t actually taste the salad...go figure. However, I love to dip veggies and fries in ranch, and my husband loves it on everything! The problem with ranch (and a lot of creamy dressings you could buy at the supermarket), is that it’s really not too good for you. A serving (2 tbsps) of a popular brand name is 140 calories, and 130 of those are from fat! If you eat a 2,000 calorie diet, this is 22% of your fat intake! Instead of eating a yummy, creamy avocado, you are wasting your fat intake on a measly two tablespoons of dressing. The saturated fat level is 12% of the recommended intake, and the sodium level is 11% of the recommended intake (again, following a 2,000/day calorie intake).* It seems better to me to season our food well so that we don’t need to drown it in fatty dressing.

I will admit, though, sometimes you just need to dunk your crispy sweet potato fries into a bowl of ranch. While on Whole30, that need for cool, zesty ranch dressing drove me to try two different brands of compliant ranch dressing, and they were good, but pretty pricey. I recently decided to try my hand at making my own, and my whole family loved the results! We have used it on salads, meats, baked potatoes, and for dipping fries and veggie chips. Zemirah’s favorite is just to lick it off her fingers!

The base of this dressing is mayonnaise/aioli, so you can either make your own (which is shockingly simple!), or your other option would be to find a high quality mayonnaise at the store made with avocado oil or olive oil without a bunch of yucky additives. After that, all you really need is a blender/food processor, coconut milk, and some herbs and spices!

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Dairy free Garlic Herb Ranch

This recipe makes about a cup of dressing, and could easily be doubled if you want more.

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 cup of mayonnaise/aioli
  • 1/4 cup of full fat coconut milk (it will be thin if you get low fat)
  • 1/2 tsp of white vinegar
  • Juice of half a lemon
  • 1 scallion, cut into quarters
  • 3 tsp chopped fresh dill (or 2 tsp dry)
  • 1-2 cloves fresh garlic, depending on taste (or 1 tsp garlic powder)
  • Salt to taste
  • Black pepper to taste (I like a lot!)

Materials Needed:

  • Measuring spoons
  • Blender or food processor

Directions:

  • Combine all ingredients in blender/food processor
  • Blend until smooth
  • Store in the refrigerator, in a covered container, for a week

This is a simple recipe, but I hope having my healthy, dairy free ranch on hand helps you spice up your family’s meals! Have a blessed week…and enjoy your pinch of crazy!

 

 

 

 

*Nutritional Facts of Ranch

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